M&S to expand branded food trial

Marks & Spencer is to extend its trial of selling branded goods such as Marmite and Weetabix to 20 stores across the South East.

Marks & Spencer is to extend its trial of selling branded goods such as Marmite and Weetabix to 20 stores across the South East.

M&S scratched its 85 year own-brand rule last summer when it introduced branded goods into 19 of North Eastern stores. The extension into shops in the South East will begin next month.

It has reportedly chosen to extend the trial to stores in North West London and Hertfordshire in order to “further gauge customer reaction and feedback,” according to a spokesman.

Analysts have been putting pressure on M&S to reverse its falling food sales, which last year resulted in the sacking of its food chief Steven Esom, who had joined from Waitrose less than a year earlier.

However, its fortunes have not improved as customers seek to rein in spending in reaction to the recession, and last month a Credit Suisse analyst said the current management team had “managed to break” the company’s food business.

The retailer announced in January a 7.1% drop in sales for the 13 weeks to December 27th compared to the same period last year. The figures revealed the retailer dropped 8.9% in general merchandise sales during the festive trading period, while food sales slipped by 5.2%.

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