M&M Sports is dropping the “Sports” from its title, renaming itself as M&M Direct. With this move, the British home shopping retailer, which specializes in close-out products, plans to focus more on non-traditional sports products in the fashion, surf/lifestyle and outdoor sectors in the future. It will continue to work with the big sports brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok, in particular helping to solve their inventory issues, but the greater focus for the future will lie in these other sectors.

The new M&M Direct goes live on March 1st with new branding and logos. Mike Tomkins, chief executive of M&M, believes that traditional sports products no longer have the cache they once had with consumers and that the mainstream sports market has become overwhelmingly price-driven. In contrast, he says, outdoor, surf and sports-inspired lifestyle/fashion products still retain their kudos and remain in demand with the typical M&M buyer.

Tomkins has fostered strong relationships with brands like Berghaus, Helly Hansen, Rockport and Timberland and is seeing an increased demand for their products. The M&M consumer is still happy to pay £120 (€175-$208) for a 1-year-old technical outdoor jacket that was originally priced at £200 (€292-$347) or more. The outdoor side of the business is should grow this year, with M&M taking on a substantial amount of product originally launched for this winter which did not sell because of an unseasonably warm winter in the UK. M&M Direct, which has just hired a marketing manager, Nick Begy, will put these products on sale for Winter 2006/07.

M&M has an annual turnover of about £50 million (€73m-$87m). The classical M&M Sports consumer is not a fashion setter but a fashion follower. He or she is not necessarily an outdoor or surf enthusiast but links these sectors with aspirational lifestyle products, as likely to be worn on the street as on a hillside or on top of a wave, despite their technical properties.