Marks & Spencer has become the first major UK retailer to launch a range of halal own-brand prepared meals.

Marks & Spencer told Retail Week that the six-item range, which will go on sale next week in 36 branches and in stores run by international franchise partner Al-Futtaim in markets such as Singapore and Dubai, was developed in response to the growing demand for halal food.

The range, certified by the Halal Food Authority, includes versions of some of M&S’ most popular meals such as chicken arrabbiata and chicken tikka masala.

Marks & Spencer Food managing director Stuart Machin said: Protecting the magic of M&S Food means leading the way as food innovators, with first-to-market ranges that respond to growing dietary demands and can deliver real commercial impact.

“M&S Food is changing to become more relevant, more often to families across Britain and our new Halal meal range is a great example of how we are broadening appeal.”

The launch follows the introduction by M&S in May this year of Shazans-branded halal chicken products, which generated a “strong sales response from local customers”. M&S’ range is distinctively packaged and will be stocked alongside the Shazans products.

M&S has been increasing the pace of innovation at its food business to widen its appeal and reflect the needs of the contemporary family shopper. Over the last year, it has launched ranges such as Plant Kitchen, for vegan and flexitarian customers, and the Cook With range of time-saving ingredients.