Marks & Spencer general merchandise director Kate Bostock has identified homewares as a “huge opportunity” for the retailer, which intends to carve out a market leading position in the category.

Bostock was speaking at the retailer’s landmark investor day – its first for a decade – where food director John Dixon also said that M&S aims eventually to sell food online.

Bostock said a minority of Marks & Spencer clothing customers buy home lines, providing the retailer with the chance to ramp up sales and rank alongside market leaders Argos and John Lewis.

Argos controls a 5.6% homewares market share and John Lewis 4.9%, said Bostock. M&S trails with 2.8%.

Dixonoutline improvements made to M&S’s food business under his leadership, such as better availability and successful promotions, and said a trial of branded products would be rolled out to more shops.

Although improving the core UK food arm is the key priority, he identified international opportunities in future and said that the development of an online food offer would be necessary. “We need an online solution that will further enhance our convenience,” he said. At present, however, an online food business remains an ambition rather than a short-term priority.

M&S’s investor day was also seen as an opportunity for internal candidates to succeed Sir Stuart Rose as chief executive to show their mettle.

As well as Dixon and Bostock, contenders including finance and operations director Ian Dyson and director of retail and M&S Direct Steve Rowe took prominent roles.