Marks & Spencer has today opened its second new-format food store in Clapham, south London, complete with a vertical-farming solution.

The store, called SW11, was designed to help “provide more sustainable solutions” for the retailer in a partnership with Infarm.

It is the second iteration of a new-look Food design, pioneered by M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin, to better showcase the store’s full range, and includes larger fresh displays, a new bakery and more plastic-free produce.

The first new-look store opened in Hempstead Valley in Kent last month.

The Clapham store has a few innovations that aren’t featured in the Kent store, including a glitter-ball pizza oven and fresh herbs grown and sold in store through the partnership with Berlin vertical-food company Infarm.

The partnership provides Marks & Spencer Food with vertical-farming units using the “latest IOT technologies and machine learning” to grow a range of herbs in store.

Each unit is controlled using a “cloud-based platform which learns, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one”.

The vertical farms use 95% less water and 75% less fertiliser than traditional soil-based farming, and can produce the equivalent of 400 sq m of farmland.

vertical farming M&S

A variety of herbs will be grown in-store, as part of a partnership with Infarm

M&S is the first UK retailer to work with Infarm and the partnership will support the construction of several distribution centres around London.

The “central hubs” will provide seedlings for the retailer to be grown in-store. Infarm farmers will then visit the stores twice a week to “harvest and add new seedlings”.

M&S Food director of food technology Paul Willgoss said: Infarm’s innovative farming platform is a fantastic example of what can happen when passionate agricultural, food and technology experts work together.

“We operate as part of a complex global food-supply chain and want to understand the emerging technologies that could help provide more sustainable solutions, while also delivering fantastic products with exceptional taste, quality and freshness for our customers.”

Infarm co-founder and chief executive Erez Galonska said: “London represents many of the sustainability challenges that people will experience in cities over the next several decades.

“By offering produce grown and harvested in the heart of the city, we want to practise a form of agriculture that is resilient, sustainable and beneficial to our planet, while meeting the needs of urban communities – first in London, and in the future, cities across the United Kingdom.”

Plans are already in place to expand the offer to a further six London stores by the end of 2019, including Kensington, Marble Arch and Brent Cross.