Major refurbishments at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose reveal some their very different thinking on how to grow sales toward the upper end of food retail.
Headlines last week concerning the re-opening of the Waitrose store at Canary Wharf focused on the expensive wine and the swanky oyster bar. But the real interest lay in what the supermarket has done there that it will take to other stores; such as larger signs showing off its promotions, rather than the confectionery trees costing £50 a pop.
While Kantar today said the good run of form at Waitrose is further proof of its ‘two nations’ theory, in fact the supermarket is focusing more than ever on value to draw in the punters.
Meanwhile, M&S is going in the opposite direction, reasserting its credentials as an upmarket retailer with new rustic bakeries and the return of delis in-store.
Marc Bolland says the £600m facelift won’t mean higher prices. And he denied the raft of changes announced yesterday signify a move further upmarket, saying – perhaps euphemistically – that he wants to make M&S more “special”.
With consumer confidence in the doldrums, that looks like a gamble.