Marks and Spencer launches 30-minute home delivery service

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Marks & Spencer has launched its first home delivery service, four months ahead of its partnership with Ocado.

Customers can now order from a range of about 130 M&S food and household items through Deliveroo.

M&S has kept its Simply Food stores and food halls open during the coronavirus pandemic, but the delivery service will make its products available to those confined to their homes.

It says deliveries will take 30 minutes and there is a £4.99 charge.

The service is available from 142 M&S outlets across the country.

The launch comes after rival Sainsbury’s introduced a one-hour delivery service called Chop Chop, which allows customers to order a top-up shop of up to 20 items. It too charges a £4.99 delivery fee.

M&S is one of the few big food retailers without its own internet-based delivery service. This has hampered the chain as it struggles with the decline of bricks-and-mortar High Street stores and the move to online shopping.

The coronavirus outbreak has accelerated this trend. Online sales now account for 10.2% of the grocery market, up from 7.4% before the pandemic, according to latest data from Kantar.

Tactical move

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said M&S’s arrangement with Deliveroo was a “pragmatic move” that felt more tactical than strategic.

“It sells niche products which have often been used as a top-up to the main food shop for treats,” he told the BBC.

“In this constrained period, if people are going to have to queue to get into the shop, they may well jettison their top-up.”

Mr Hyman said bigger M&S stores were likely to be “right at the heart of the country’s population centres, where everything else is shut, and that will have impacted footfall”.

As a result, the Deliveroo deal was designed to make sure that customers could still get M&S products as quickly and easily as possible, he added.

M&S announced last year that it would go into partnership with Ocado from September this year, replacing the online grocer’s existing deal with Waitrose.

Under the deal, M&S is buying a 50% share of Ocado’s retail business for £750m.

Ocado will also continue to supply its own-label products and big-name branded goods.

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