M&S to sell other brands for the first time in 125 years

LONDON - Marks & Spencer has revealed plans to sell other FMCG brands, such as Stella Artois and Coca-Cola, throughout all its stores as it seeks to plug gaps in its product offering.

M&S has been trialling the sale of 400 branded products in 54 stores in the north and south east of England over the past 16 months. The goods will be available by January.

The store said the initial offer will focus on sectors where it has no presence or its own-brand range has a low market share. These categories include alcohol, confectionery, laundry, pet food and personal care.

Brands to come into the store include Stella Artois, Cadbury Wispa, Kellogg's Cheerios, Jacobs Cream Crackers, Pantene, Baileys Irish Cream, Whiskas and Coca-Cola. M&S said that none of its existing own-brand products will be replaced with a branded counterpart.

John Dixon, executive director of food, said: "There are some products that we could simply never compete with, like Marmite and Kit Kat, and other areas where, while we have a great M&S equivalent, the leading brand dominates the market. Adding the nation's favourite brands to our mix offers our customers more choice and strengthens our position as the UK’s leading quality food retailer."

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."

The introduction of branded goods will remove one barrier to M&S launching an online food delivery service. Although M&S's own brand range is widely respected it has admitted there are too many gaps in its product range to provide consumers with a complete weekly shop.

Last month M&S director of retail Steve Rowe said he wanted to create an M&S online food offering but had concerns about the limited size of M&S's range and the logistical challenges involved in distribution and delivery.

The announcement on the introduction of own brand products came as M&S announced a 0.9% fall in UK like-for-like sales for the six months to September 26.