A survey of more than 80 companies, including some of the UK’s best-known retailers, points to almost universal take-up of retail brand collaborations, concessions and co-promotions.

Recent major collaborations have included Shein’s partnership with Forever 21 on a co-branded apparel and accessories line, and the marketing madness surrounding the release of the Barbie movie.

Such partnerships represent a significant chunk of the UK retail sector’s valuation of £386.3bn in 2022. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 2% during 2022-2027.

However, challenges for retailers around reputation, communication and fairness within collaborations remain.

Research commissioned by legal practice Foot Anstey looks at the benefit of brand partnerships for businesses including the likes of eBay, Marks & Spencer, Next and Superdry.

The pros of retail brand partnerships

The research suggests overwhelmingly positive support for brand partnerships, with more than 90% of companies taking part in the study saying this work supports innovation and expansion, and taps into new consumer bases.

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Media coverage, increased turnover and market share were identified prominently as markers of success.

One participant, a senior representative of Harrods, commented that harnessing the power of partner brands helped deliver “a decent output in terms of media marketing, communications, and driving footfall or customers to the store”.

The cons of retail brand partnerships

But the research also shows the journey is not without its challenges. Issues such as reputational damage and miscommunication between partners were regularly highlighted in the survey as recurring problems.

A quarter of brands surveyed (25%) stated that “tainting the brand or company reputation” was a risk of a brand partnership or collaboration.

Half of the brands surveyed said they experienced communication difficulties with other partners, while 43% cited a lack of co-operation from the partnering company leading to poor execution.

Concerns around transparency between partners were cited by 17% of respondents.

Foot Anstey partner Alexandra Hammond commented: “Forward-thinking companies recognise the importance of legal clarity in ensuring smooth and successful collaborations.”