Marks & Spencer’s multichannel director has ruled out selling food online and revealed that internally its ambition is to become “Net-a-Porter for the masses”.

At an investor lunch hosted by Espirito Santo last week, M&S’s e-commerce chief Laura Wade-Gery said the retailer was not looking at online food beyond click & collect for special occasions.

No consideration had been given to food in the building of M&S’s new 900,000 sq ft distribution centre in Castle Donington, she reportedly said.

M&S instead wanted to become “Net-a-Porter for the masses”. To do that, it had to offer more than a transactional website, it had to tell a ‘fashion story’ and be desirable to women in their 30s, knowing the real target audience was 20 years older, she said.

She also illustrated the progress the business had made removing barriers to multichannel growth. For example, in the past year M&S had refined staff incentives to account for online sales made in postcodes surrounding stores.

M&S has also introduced ‘browse and order’ stations to some stores and equipped staff with iPads to give customers the opportunity to shop the full catalogue in store and drive online growth. Wade-Gery reportedly said the iPads had proved a “surprising success”.

Espirito Santo analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said Wade-Gery was transforming the business. “M&S is accelerating improvements and over the medium-term has aspirations and the capital to become a market leader in the multichannel world,” he said.