Marks & Spencer is to slash the number of branded food products it sells as part of a new focus on “fresh, speciality and convenience”.

The changes come as part of Marc Bolland’s eagerly awaited business review, six months after he joined the retailer as its latest chief executive.

Bolland (pictured) said M&S would establish “a clear market position as a high-quality retailer, inspiring customers with unrivalled quality and innovation”.

The retailer would bring customers the ‘Best of British’ and ‘Flavours of the World’, he vowed.

It plans to introduce 100 exclusive international brands and will increase its food lines by 1,000 to 8,000.

Branded foods would be cut from around 400 to 100 and would “play a role only where we cannot develop our own best-in-class M&S alternatives,” Bolland said.

The number of Simply Food stores is to be increased, but M&S ruled out the launch of a full online food offer.

The plans were outlined as M&S reported a 2.6% increase in like-for-like food sales for the 26 weeks to 2 October. Food sales rose 4.1% over the period.

Total sales rose 5.4% to £4.6bn during the period, while pre-tax profits were up from £306.7m to £348.6m - a rise of almost 14%.

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