M&S has scrapped a trial of ‘Sparks Prices’ as it reviews its loyalty programme.
M&S launched the trial of exclusive prices for loyalty scheme members last summer in about 50 stores in south Wales, the north east of England and the West Midlands. It gave loyalty scheme members access to discounted prices such as £13 for a chicken Deluxe Family Dine In deal instead of the usual £15.
The retailer confirmed the initiative had ended after M&S CEO Stuart Machin said it was rethinking the loyalty programme, and indicated Sparks Prices would not be pursued.
“We are reviewing our loyalty programme,” he told journalists as M&S gave its Christmas trading update last week.
“Do I see us doing Sparks prices? To be honest, I don’t.”
Machin said there were 18 million customers on the loyalty programme, and an Advent calendar-style promotion had “resonated well” with them in the run-up to Christmas. Called 12 Days of M&S, the promotion saw users receive a gift a day by opening doors in the digital calendar.
“Whether I like it is a different matter, because actually I’d much rather us be focused on quality, style and value,” said Machin.
“And I think we need to rethink Sparks over the short, medium and longer-term.”
He added: “I think there’s an opportunity with our loyalty programme and we are exploring those opportunities now.
“We know our customers would much rather have great products at everyday trusted prices and I’m quite stuck to that because that’s what our customers tell us.”
An M&S spokeswoman said: “We are reviewing our current Sparks loyalty offer and as part of that, often trial new and different propositions.
“Last year, we carried out some small-scale trials around Sparks prices, which we won’t be progressing.”
The scrapping of loyalty prices takes M&S in the opposite direction to Tesco, which has offered Clubcard Prices since 2020, and Sainsbury’s, which launched Nectar Prices last year. Morrisons also relaunched its loyalty programme with member-only prices last spring.
M&S getting on board the member-only pricing bandwagon. Limited trial of Sparks Prices underway pic.twitter.com/hlkP0sfl7V— Bryan Roberts (@BryanRoberts72) June 28, 2023
Machin also told journalists M&S expected delays to the arrival of new clothing & home lines from February and March due to conflict in the Red Sea shipping route, along with possible minor disruption in the beer, wines & spirits category.
“There are some impacts from Red Sea delays,” he said. “We’re not seeing that at the moment, but we’re conscious of it.
“There are two things we’re conscious of: the costs and also more importantly the availability of new ranges.
“We haven’t experienced that yet. We’re expecting maybe some slight delays in newness in February and March. That’s really clothing & home. We don’t expect our food business to be impacted by it, but it’s something that is impacting everyone and it’s something we’re very focused on.”
He added there may be a “small impact” on BWS “and a bit of packaging” disruption.