The firm, which posted a 2.6% rise in like-for-like sales and a 4.1% rise in total sales in its food division in the 26 weeks to October 2, said new systems would deliver a “step change” in availability.
M&S had just started a trial of a new forecasting, space planning and ranging system in foods that was designed to deliver improved availability and waste management, and was due to be rolled out in the New Year, said chief executive Marc Bolland.
“We have worked hard to improve on-shelf availability and reduce levels of waste through better merchandising and distribution. Next year we will be introducing new systems, which will deliver a step change in availability and further improve our customer service."
Brands down from 400 to 100
M&S was on track to refresh 25% of its total food range this year, revealed Bolland, who also announced plans to cut the range of branded food lines from 400 to 100 and introduce a new range of 100 international brands, which will be exclusive to M&S.
In future, branded foods would “play a role only where we cannot develop our own best in class M&S alternatives”, said Bolland, who is aiming to establish a clear market position as a "specialist, high quality food retailer, focusing on freshness, speciality and convenience”.
The overall food range would also be increased from 7,000 to 8,000 lines through better space utilisation in its food halls, while the number of Simply Food stores would be increased, he added.
“Our focus however will be on developing products unique to M&S and characterised by innovation and superb eating quality, inspired by the Best of British and Flavours of the World."
While bosses aimed to grow the existing online wine, flower, and ‘food to order’ business from £80m to £150m by 2013/14 and would continue to evaluate a full online food offer, it did “not intend to build that capability at present”, stressed Bolland.