Marks & Spencers

Food and drink business incubator Kitchen Table Projects has formed a partnership with Marks & Spencer that will give selected start-ups the chance to pitch for a listing with the retailer.

The initiative, which hosted pop-ups shops in London’s Old Street and Great Portland Street last year, will hold a ‘Food Business Bootcamp’ at Waterside House, the London HQ of M&S, on 5 May. After sessions in which participants will be given advice on growing their business towards being retail-ready, five start-ups will be selected to pitch their products, Dragons’ Den-style, to the retailer, for business and product feedback - with the possibility of a listing.

KTP is also collaborating with M&S on a further two events: a speed mentoring session on 24 March, and an informal networking for food producers, consultants, media, retailers and distributors on 23 June. These will also be at Waterside House.

“There are thousands of emerging artisan food producers across the UK who have little experience of the food industry,” said KTP founder Tara Mei. “Many make their products at the kitchen table, or in shared facilities, before selling them in local delis and grocers. Our partnership with M&S gives these producers a rare opportunity to be guided by the experts from one the UK’s biggest and best-known retailers.”

M&S deli product developer Kirsty Grieve said the partnership demonstrated the retailer’s commitment to supporting the next generation of food and drink brands.

“Partnerships like this are invaluable, not just for those looking to grow their food and drink business, but also for M&S in helping us to discover the next big thing for our shelves,” she said.