And that appears to be just what British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) plans on doing: bucking the growing retail trend towards expanding prepared foods' and ready meals merchandising, which it helped pioneer, in favor of putting an increased emphasis on selling an expanded selection of premium food ingredients and groceries.
M&S's food group had a less than successful Christmas selling season. In fact, some UK supermarket analysts are predicting the retailer will have a 2% or more drop in same store sales for the crucial holiday shopping season, compared to the same quarter last year. In contrast, upscale grocer Waitrose--which is known for its premium and natural foods ranges of grocery products and ingredients--posted a 4% gain in same store sales for the Christmas holiday season, over last year.
See the reasoning at Marks & Spencer? It appears the retailer is thinking in more of a Waitrose mind set: that the key to growing sales at M&S might just be to merchandise an expanded selection of premium specialty foods ingredients and grocery products.
Although we believe this is a smart--and logical--move for M&S, it isn't going to be easy to lure Waitrose shoppers to its stores just because the retailer is expanding its premium food ingredient and grocery selection.
Waitrose offers a high-quality range of not only store branded and international brand premium groceries and food ingredients, the grocer also is strong in natural and organic products.
There is currently a convergence happening in the consumer food market between premium quality foods and ingredients and natural and organic ones. The most successful premium goods introduced in the last couple years have generally been those which also have all-natural or organic attributes--and Waitrose is an international leader in creating and merchandising such products.
The move by Marks & Spencer however is a very logical one for the retailer. It needs to more fully differentiate itself as a premium grocer. By expanding its stores' offerings of premium food ingredients and groceries it will be able to achieve that goal if executed well.