Consider, for a moment, examples of great strategic alliances. How about NATO? Or Cereal Partners Worldwide? Or The Traveling Wilburys? The list goes on and on. 

Its next potential entry was unveiled today: Costa Coffee and Marks & Spencer.

“Two of the nation’s favourite high street brands have announced a new collaboration to create an exciting food and drink experience for UK customers,” M&S has announced.

Under the none-more-literal banner Costa Coffee Now Serving M&S Food, hungry Brits will from next year “be able to choose from over 30 delicious, great-quality M&S Food products, including new lunch options, hot meal boxes and children’s food”. The offer will be available in more than 2,500 Costa outlets.

Which is great news for a number of different parties – not least Costa patrons. Because, let’s face it, the coffee chain’s food has long been a bit… meh, to say the least. It’s flagged behind the quality offered by rivals Pret a Manger, Caffè Nero and Starbucks.

That looks set to change, with Costa soon able to “provide an even greater range of quality, great-value food for all customers’ breakfast, lunch and breaktime needs” according to M&S.

For the two high street powerhouses, meanwhile, their fascinating alliance will surely be mutually beneficial.

“For M&S Food, it will further expand access to its much-loved food range” says the retailer – just a week after reporting its food sales had increased by 10.4% for the six months to October. Talk about striking while the iron’s hot.

COO Stuart Machin adds: “It extends our reach and supports our strategy of making M&S more relevant, more often for families.”

For Costa, the team-up provides an opportunity to claw back some lockdown-era losses (which last year put up to 1,650 jobs at risk). And it further suggests the business’s growing preference to reflect in the glory of food from big-name third parties. See also its latest Christmas menu, which includes Rocky Road with Aero Peppermint Bubbles, After Eight Muffin and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Muffin – courtesy of Nestlé and Caramba.

Finally, it leaves Costa, the nation’s largest coffee shop chain, to focus on what it does best: serve piping hot java. Which makes sense given owner Coca-Cola’s commitment to being a ‘total beverage’ supplier. There’s apparently no ambition to take on arch-rival PepsiCo in the snacking category.

“We’ll use our joint expertise to develop a food experience of the highest quality, freshness and value – all served with a perfectly crafted Costa coffee,” promises Costa MD Neil Lake.

Now, who fancies a medium latte and a chicken caesar wrap?