M&S Food

Marks & Spencer has announced plans to shift the focus of its large stores to its food products.

The retailer's food department has grown strongly over the past decade, while it has faced a lengthy battle to keep clothing sales from falling.

It said that just 12 stores across the UK stock all 6,500 of its food products, and wants to attract customers to complete their weekly food shop.

The shift will see improve its space for food in existing stores, while new stores will be better designed for its food products and in more convenient locations for food shopping.

In a letter to suppliers, M&S said shoppers were assuming that it does not have a full range of products because of how few stores stock all products.

It said: "This must change, and it will. The full range will go online with Ocado and we are starting a store renewal programme that will get more products in front of more customers with bigger, better M&S Food Halls in new and existing sites."

It comes after announcing a deal to purchase a 50% stake in delivery service Ocado in February. Critics had suggested that M&S shoppers did not spend enough to warrant an online delivery. The average M&S food purchase is just £13, whereas the overage order for a delivery with Ocado is £100. However, Marks & Spencer believes that having its full range of products available with Ocado will result in larger purchases.

Currently, Marks & Spencer has over 700 convenience 'Simply Food' stores, but at an average of 7,000 sq ft, they are not big enough to stock all 6,500 products. The shift in focus will see M&S open stores of around 12,000 sq ft in more attractive locations.