Private label pioneer commits to brands

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 5th November 2009

Marks & Spencer is to sell a selected range of around 400 branded grocery and household products in all of its UK stores.

The roll-out follows a 16 month trial in its stores in the North East and South East of England, the UK retailer said.

The range of ambient products will be introduced into M&S stores over the next year, starting this month with additional stores in the trial areas, and expanding into other regions from January 2010.

Branded grocery products will include Coca-Cola, Marmite, Kelloggs and Heinz.

The offer, M&S said, will focus on brand-dominated categories where M&S would typically have a low market share such as soft drinks, confectionery, beer, laundry, personal care, and pet food; or on filling gaps where M&S has no own brand equivalent.

Sir Stuart Rose, M&S chairman said: “Our trials have shown us that an edited selection of branded grocery and household products has a place at Marks & Spencer. Our customers are at the heart of this decision – they lead increasingly busy lives so buying those essential, must-have branded products at M&S will help save them time. It will be so much more for convenient for our customers to get what they need from M&S rather than having to go elsewhere.”

Each M&S store will offer an edited selection of the range chosen according to its size, starting from around 50 products in smaller stores up to the full range of around 400 products in M&S’ largest stores.

Marks and Spencer said that all of the branded products have been price matched against the major supermarkets.

John Dixon, executive director of Food, added: “My team and I are focused on delivering the best that M&S Food can offer – innovative products that provide unbeatable quality and great value. But there are some products that we could simply never compete with, like Marmite and Kit Kat, and other areas where, whilst we have a great M&S equivalent, the leading brand dominates the market.”

Last year, for the first time in its 85-year history, the retailer began stocking brands in 19 stores in the Northeast in a bid to draw in shoppers.

An extended trial then began in April, including the sale of branded products such as Tetley tea and Hellman’s mayonnaise.

The group today posted flat first-half profit, but said it remained “cautious about the outlook for Christmas and the year ahead”.

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