Consumers today want more fresh food faster.
Faster food means faster turnaround times, shorter shelf life and getting products through your supply chain pronto. Without effective planning you risk waste and losing money. Download the white paper Controlling Costs in the Food Supply Chain and take control of your costs.
Click here to download the free whitepaper
For upmarket UK retailer Marks and Spencer, the last 12
months has been a strong year for its food business.
Its series of trading updates have shown food to be the
side of the retailer that has performed solidly while its
clothing operations have struggled. After M&S reported its
fourth-quarter sales in April, Conlumino analyst Neil
Saunders said food was "the undoubted star of the
show" after the retailer posted an increase in underlying
sales from its grocery aisles.
Innovation, seasonal campaigns and new-look stores that
include deli and bakery counters have been cited as ways in
which M&S can cater to UK shoppers that are, even if just
every now and then, willing to trade up.
However, an announcement last Friday underlined M&S, seen
as an expensive place to buy food, understands emphasising
other parts of the value equation remains vital. Last week,
the retailer launched Simply M&S, a range of 800
"everyday" products that will be "competitively priced" to
try to encourage consumers to do more of their shop at its
The move is timely. Rival Waitrose has tried to highlight
its value credentials in recent weeks with the extension of
a scheme that compares its prices with Tesco. And, over at
Tesco, the UK's largest retailer has relaunched its
entry-level own-label line.
Now, the average punter is unlikely to do a full grocery
shop at M&S. In any case, its estate does not have a huge
number of stores equipped with a range that could fill a
weekly trolley. However, by launching its everyday range,
the retailer is hoping its shoppers will add a few more
items to their M&S baskets instead of going elsewhere. Or,
perhaps, that the occasional M&S shopper looking for a treat
will also top up their basket with staple products they
usually buy at other retailers.
Sainsbury's, which last week announced annual profits that
beat City forecasts, is a
successful example of a UK food retailer with a relatively
pricey image being able to, with a number of initiatives,
demonstrate that it, too, can offer value for money. It is
unlikely M&S will match that success in absolute terms but,
in relative terms, the rationale behind its launch of Simply
is the same.
M&S is scheduled to report its annual results next
Tuesday. Reports over the weekend said chief executive Marc
Bolland is likely to announce his plan to triple M&S's sales
in three years was too ambitious. A tough clothing sector is
understood to have held back the retailer but its food
halls, even in a tough economic climate, are holding up
Until next time...