Marks & Spencer faces uphill food challenge, GlobalData

Marks & Spencer faces uphill food challenge, GlobalData

M&S faces an uphill battle to win over weekly food shoppers, according to GlobalData.

The High Street stalwart is planning to expand the number of stores offering the full range of M&S food products. It makes sense that M&S Food’s Managing Director Stuart Machin is looking to expand this side of the business. Over the last decade, the retailer has increasingly relied on its food division as its clothing and home side has suffered, with the former now responsible for 61% of group sales – up from 52% in 2009.

However, simply offering a full range of food products in more stores will not instantly convert into sales, argues Thomas Brereton, Retail Analyst at GlobalData. It will take time for the new proposition to resonate with target consumers, who are more used to shopping at other ‘premium’ players such as Waitrose or Sainsbury’s for the mainstay of their grocery shops. Only 2% of shoppers currently do their full shop at M&S.

“It’s also an unusual decision to redistribute investment towards larger spaces; average store size at the larger supermarkets has been falling over recent years following the repositioning of store portfolios to focus on closer, smaller shops, to capitalise on the growing demand for convenience,” Brereton adds.

“It is not necessarily the wrong move for M&S for the long-term; rather, it is an onerous task to juggle expanding food space and ensuring the joint venture with Ocado is correctly managed, while also convincing shoppers of a new ‘value’ premise that contrasts with M&S’s long-standing premium reputation.”

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