Marks & Spencer is bringing back delis and investing in its bakeries in a bid to give it a “specialty” edge over the competition.

Chief executive Marc Bolland today said the retailer was fighting back against perceptions that “M&S food is like the others’”.

He plans to take the M&S food range further upmarket by introducing in-store delis, bakeries, new international brands and more local produce.

At its High Street Kensington store in London, the high street giant this morning gave a preview of the changes it will introduce across the UK over the next two years. A new deli has been built showing off products from home and abroad that Bolland said would beat independents on price and other supermarkets on quality.

Salads and fresh pasta will be made on site, while customers will be able to order everything from hand carved Wiltshire ham to Tartiflette tarts.

Delis – a feature of around 50 M&S stores in the late 1990s – will be re-introduced initially at half a dozen stores over the next month.

More widespread will be the introduction of new-look bakeries. M&S already has 400 bakeries across the country and these will be upgraded and improved with an emphasis on specialty breads such as cranberry & pecan’ and spelt & honey loaves.

M&S is to add 100 new international brands to its food aisles, covering everything from chocolate fondue in a tin to upmarket Italian coffee.

Bolland said M&S had signed exclusive agreements with “best in class” suppliers to bring the new products in. The focus initially is on European food but brands from further-flung countries will be included over time.

Away from the food aisles, M&S is launching a new furniture range by Sir Terrance Conran. In fashion, it will aim for what it called a more "department store feel" in fashion.

More prominence will be given to clothing brands by using props such as mopeds, chandeliers and a mini catwalk. New signs will make it easier for customers to navigate the clothing department.

M&S will spend £600m in total on the revamp. In addition to the Kensington store and a new outlet in Stratford, a further 14 pilots will be refurbished in an initial first wave of investment. At least 80 more stores will then be revamped before March, with the rest of the UK estate set to be completed by mid-2013. 

Read more
M&S cashes in on April party mood with improving food sales (13 July 2011)
Gel-ignite: 20 challenges for Marc Bolland at M&S (10 April 2010)