M&S says a full online grocery service “is not on the radar for now"

M&S says a full online grocery service “is not on the radar for now"

UK retailer Marks and Spencer has again insisted it has no immediate plans to launch an online grocery delivery operation.

Speaking at a briefing on M&S's food business in London yesterday (22 October), the group's executive director for food, Steve Rowe, told attendees the retailer "[does] not have it in our sights to move online with core foods at this time".

M&S does offer a service where consumers can order a limited range of food online and pick it up in store. However, since Morrisons announcement that it will start home deliveries in January through a tie-up with Ocado, analysts have speculated over whether M&S, would expand its service.

CEO Marc Bolland, however, was keen to reiterate M&S's stance on expanding the service during the briefing's question and answer session when pushed on the subject. "It is not on the radar for now, it is not on our agenda."

Instead, the chief executive was keen to point out the group's food performance has been boosted by its level of innovation, which he suggested was set to continue with the launch of its Christmas food range.

"It is more innovation than the company has ever seen," he said of the festive line.

He added: "In 2010 we said we were on a food journey and that is not yet complete, it has only just started."

In November 2010, six months after taking the helm, Bolland announced plans to invest GBP850-900m (US$1.3-1.4bn) in overhauling its UK business and developing its international operations. Part of that investment included plans to better utilise the space in its food hall, with plans to increase its range from 7,000 to 8,000 SKUs.

He told attendees yesterday: "We want to restart and accelerate our space growth programme on food. We believe there is an opportunity here that we need to translate to other parts of the country. We will also continue our modernisation programme."

M&S suggested it wanted to better use its food space through the implementation of 'Event Zones' for occasions, such as Halloween and the further roll-out of its 'Tasting Kitchens' that use chefs to cook recipes in-store.

In July, M&S booked a 1.8% increase in like-for-like food sales for its first quarter, with total food sales in the UK up 4.5%.