INSIGHT: M&S tactics require status checks
UK supermarket retailer Marks and Spencer will be desperately trying to avoid an identity crisis amid changes to its branded goods and price comparison literature.
M&S has price-checked its Wise Buys products against the Waitrose Essentials range, and will start communicating the message to its shoppers.
At the same time, the company has announced the roll-out of around 400 branded grocery and household products in all of its UK stores.
M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose is determined to pitch its price point against Waitrose.
Indeed, he told journalists at an interim earnings meeting today (4 November): "Many people don't know that we are cheaper on 1,200 products than Waitrose."
However, M&S will have to do this without sounding 'too cheap', of course, to resonate with the target up-scale food shopper.
Sir Stuart said growth in total food sales during the first half had been largely, but not completely achieved by focusing on value.
He said the company's food revenues have also benefited from promotions such as its Wise Buys range and 'Dine in for GBP10'.
"Our customers like these, but they also like the other side of the coin and come to us for what's new at Marks.
"For this reason we continue to develop the business, and are extending the roll out of branded products. Not because we've run out of ideas in our own catalogue, but because our customer also wants to buy the particular brands they like, whether you have a thing about Tabasco or Bovril or Kit Kats."
However, Sir Stuart said: "We're not going to swamp the stores with 10,000 brands like a typical supermarket does, we're going to have 400. They're going to be there for the customers convenience."
M&S knows that the scale of its branded roll out is the all-important factor in avoiding any aforementioned identity crisis.
M&S reported a 1.8% growth in food sales during the first-half ended 26 September at the briefing, but saw like-for-like food sales drop 0.3%.
Click here to read more about the company's first-half results.
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