Marks & Spencer has recruited grocery supply chain expert Lawrence Christensen as an independent adviser.

Christensen, a former Safeway director, is renowned throughout the industry for fixing supply chain issues at a number of grocers including Sainsbury’s, which was plagued by poor availability in the mid-2000s.

He has been brought on board for three days a week at M&S and is working with the retailer’s grocery arm on how to best move food from supplier to store.

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe said Christensen was part of an “army of external experts” he was leaning on during M&S’ transformation plan.

He added: “Lawrence is a guru of food distribution. We are delighted that he’s joined us and he is going to work on our food logistics.”

Food strategy

M&S is currently attempting to reverse decline at its once star-performer grocery arm. Sales grew 4.4% in the 26 weeks to September 30, but like-for-likes slipped 0.1%.

Management admitted that it was disappointed by the performance.

Chairman Archie Norman said at the time that it needed to “recalibrate” its food business, saying he believed it had become too specialist.

The business will also focus on inconsistencies in its price architecture, which is more important than ever as cost prices rise and the psychological effect of the interest rate rise begins to bite, and simplifying its ranging and improving availability.

In a reversal of strategy, there will be fewer new Simply Food stores built as the business faces a changing grocery market and a slowdown in its usually market-beating food business.