Uniq: Brands will drive footfall at M&S, but not in the desserts fixture

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

M&S Simply Food
M&S Simply Food

Related tags: Brand, Uniq

Marks & Spencer's decision to introduce branded products into its stores is good news for its own-label suppliers, according to the firm making more than half of its sandwiches and most of its desserts.

However, M&S would have “nothing to gain” ​by introducing brands into its desserts fixtures, Uniq boss Geoff Eaton cautioned.

Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk after unveiling Uniq's interim results​ yesterday, Eaton said: “I’m a believer in the brand strategy ​at M&S​ [which accounts for more than half of Uniq's business].

“From our point of view, it’s a positive development as it provides shoppers with more reasons to visit their stores. And the higher the footfall, the more products we’ll sell. But they must be careful which brands they choose and look at where the opportunities are to fill gaps in their range.

“M&S is already a destination store for desserts and they overtrade in yogurts, so there is nothing to be gained from having brands in the desserts cabinet.”

Evolution, not revolution?

Former Morrisons chief executive Marc Bolland, who took the helm at M&S in May, was taking his time to talk to suppliers and understand the M&S brand and how to develop it, said Eaton.

“I have met Marc and will be seeing him again in a couple of weeks. But he will not be talking about a new strategy until November. We saw what he did at Morrisons and we like the way he talks about the evolution of the brand.

"We will have the opportunity to feed into this process when we meet up next.We’re very excited about the prospects.

While Uniq’s desserts division​ slumped into the red in the first half owing to additional costs to support the launch of new products and continued pressure on margins,​ its longer-term prospects were good, insisted Eaton.

“We launched 87 new products in the period compared with 28 in the first half of last year and in many cases the initial demand was more than double our expectations, which put a hell of a strain on the factories.”

Click here​ for more detailed coverage of Uniq's interim results.

Related topics: Business News, Chilled foods

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