M&S update: supply chain, online and clothing

Date : 13 April 2021

Lucy Ingram

Retail Analyst

We look at the latest news from M&S, including its latest initiative to support British farmers, the expansion of its international online business, and the recent purchase of clothing retailer Jaeger.

Supporting British famers

M&S has started a new five year ‘Farming with Nature’ collaborative programme to support its Select Farms. The Select Farms brand is part of M&S's Plan A initiative, committing the business to a more sustainable future. The programme will support farmers in becoming more resilient to the biggest environmental challenges they face. This includes climate change, biodiversity, soil health and water usage. As part of this, M&S is introducing 30 million bees to 28 UK Select Farm Sites this summer. This will help encourage more natural habitat on farms and support the British bee population.

To champion the programme, the retailer is launching a four-month ‘Fresh Market Update’ customer campaign. A total of?73 different?ads?will?run across 19 weeks. Each week M&S will introduce viewers to a different farmer.

From April, M&S will also be expanding its RSPCA Assured range. RSPCA Assured products guarantees animal welfare such as more living space and responsible antibiotic use. M&S will now have this certification on all fresh eggs, pork, farmed salmon and trout, chicken and milk. In 2017, M&S became the first retailer to offer RSPCA Assured milk and is still the only retailer to offer this.

The Fresh Market Update and expansion of the RSPCA Assured range helps M&S to further differentiate itself from other retailers through its sustainability credentials.

For subscribers looking for more insight on sustainability, check out our Sustainability in Q1 2021 report.

Expanding online business to over 100 markets

M&S has launched clothing only websites in 46 new markets. This expands its online reach to over 100 countries, nearly doubling the number of international markets where it has a pureplay online presence.

The launch is part of the retailers' focus on its online business under the 'Never the Same Again' transformation programme, aiming to restore the business to profitable growth.

At its most recent interim results M&S reported a 75% increase in international e-commerce sales, underlining the recent shift in online customer spend throughout the pandemic.

For subscribers looking for more insight on online, see our latest collection of reports on click and collect; click and collect: how suppliers can win now, and in the future, click and collect: retailer best practice, and click and collect: the short-term solution, the long-term play.

Purchase of Jaeger

Marks & Spencer has bought upmarket fashion brand Jaeger following its collapse last autumn.

The retailer, Bellwether is expected to buy the intellectual property only, allowing M&S to sell Jaeger-branded goods on its website as a third-party brand. M&S did not disclose the amount paid but it is understood to be around £5m. The deal means no store staff from Jaeger are expected to keep their jobs and all physical sites are expected to stay shut permanently.

This acquisition will help to modernise M&S's struggling clothing business further.

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