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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