M&S acquires IP of collapsed AI clothing brand Thread

M&S Thread Image credit: patat via Shutterstock

The intellectual property of the collapsed AI fashion brand Thread has been acquired by M&S for an unknown fee.

The retailer will incorporate Thread’s proprietary tech, which uses algorithms to give customers bespoke clothing recommendations based on tastes, budget and body type, into its online clothing service.

Along with Thread’s IP, M&S will bring on 30 staff members of the firm, including the company founders, Kieran O’Neill and Ben Phillips.

While M&S already has product recommendations for online shopping to some degree, the company hopes that the acquired tech will be a major boost to sales.

“In the next 12 to 18 months we are targeting 50% of digital customer interactions to be personalised. The integration of Thread technology will enable us to take personalisation to the next level,” M&S co-chief executive Katie Bickerstaffe.

“We have been working hard to deliver better, more stylish ranges and this algorithm will also put more of our great product in front of the customer”.

Thread, which was founded 10 years ago, announced it had entered administration this week. The founders wrote in a blog post that the news was “bittersweet” and expressed admiration for M&S looking to bring their tech to a wider audience.

In 2018, Thread raised $22m (£18m) in a Series B funding round from Balderton Capital, Beringea, Forward Partners, and H&M group’s investment arm.

It marks a second distressed M&A in as many months, with clothing brand Next acquiring the Made.com brand and intellectual property for £3.4m after the beleaguered furniture ecommerce company entered administration.