M&S Collection Cherry & Orange Christmas Pudding Wreath 700g £12

Source: M&S

Last year M&S cancelled its Christmas Food to Order service over Brexit-linked supply chain disruptions

Marks & Spencer is reinstating its Christmas Food to Order service across all of Ireland this year, having cancelled it in 2021 due to “complex” Brexit-related checks and delays.

The service will be brought back to both Northern Ireland and the Republic, the retailer announced this week, with extra precautions to mitigate the impact of trade across the UK-EU border.

M&S said it had been working in partnership with its local suppliers and operations teams to make sure customers could access its festive range this year.

Speaking as M&S announced its first-half results, CEO Stuart Machin also doubled down on calls for the government to make the flow of goods speedier and more effective along the UK and Republic of Ireland border.

“We really want the EU and UK to be more open-minded around how we have a workable solution rather than all these manual processes and bureaucracy,” he said. “We’re pretty determined to make this work.”

M&S’s revenues in the six months to 1 October increased 8.5% to £5.5bn but adjusted pre-tax profits declined 24% to £205.5m as rising costs dented the food business.

Machin said Brexit-related costs were around £16m in the first half of the year across both food and clothing & home – a decrease from £18.9m in the same period last year, after M&S managed to alleviate some of the Brexit impacts on its supply chain.

The retailer has increased local sourcing within the Christmas Food to Order product range to support the peak trading period. It has also “carefully planned” the moving of goods through its island of Ireland supply chain to allow for additional time to meet export requirements.

Read more: M&S strengthens Northern Ireland supply chain with new local sandwich supplier

“Both Northern Ireland and Ireland are important markets for M&S and we remain committed to providing a great service to our customers,” an M&S spokeswoman said.

“The challenges caused by Brexit on food movements from GB make operating in both markets very tough, but we are working hard to find short-term solutions.”

When importing goods to the Republic of Ireland, M&S has been sourcing more product directly from suppliers based outside Great Britain to bypass Brexit checks. For example, it is now shipping pasta directly from Italy to Ireland, avoiding a GB-based distribution centre.

The company also now has a dedicated local sourcing team based in Dublin, signing local producers such as sandwich makers Around Noon, and fresh produce and meat suppliers.

However, it said that, as an own-brand retailer, it was still struggling to find alternatives for all products, which is why it still needed to work with the UK government and the EU to find a solution.

“In the longer-term, we need the UK government and the EU to agree a solution that takes into account the high food safety standards in the UK, digitalises processes and removes the burdensome checks and administration on every delivery.”