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Britain's M&S expands food capacity to tackle understocked shelves

Wed, 12th Aug 2020 13:56

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - British retailer Marks & Spencer
said on Wednesday it would open a new national food
distribution centre in England, expanding capacity as part of a
drive to improve the historically poor levels of food available
in stores and high wastage that have dragged on profit.

M&S said the new 365,000 square foot facility in Milton
Keynes, north west of London, would be operated by XPO
Logistics, who would create 360 new jobs. It is set to open next
month.

The high street stalwart, whose shares have fallen 45% so
far this year, is seeking to reinvent itself after a decade of
failed attempts. In May it said the coronavirus crisis would
indelibly change its business and that it would accelerate its
latest turnaround plan.

Poor levels of food available on shelves has dogged M&S for
years, while its food waste levels are amongst the highest in
the industry and ruined its performance last Christmas.

M&S has said that solving these problems provides a very
significant financial opportunity and hopes the new distribution
centre will go some way to achieve this.

It will supply M&S food products to the south of England
regions and increase the retailer’s capacity of ambient products
by as much as 60%, enabling customers to do a full weekly shop
rather than just top-ups.

It will allow M&S to offer a broader range of cleaning and
household products, greater choice of groceries, including
baking and essentials to cook from scratch and a wider range of
soft drinks and wine.

"Unlocking value in its food supply chain is a key part of
M&S Food’s transformation plan, and at its full year results in
May, M&S committed to resolve the longstanding issues in food
availability and waste to drive greater improvements for
customers," M&S said in a statement.

Next month will also see M&S launch an online food service
for the first time through its partnership with Ocado.
(Reporting by James Davey, editing by Louise Heavens)

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