Development unit created to 'explore opportunities'
Marks & Spencer is to create a food development unit to help it capitalise upon its name in premium lines.

The unit will 'explore new opportunities to develop and broaden the reach of our food business', said the retailer.

First-half food sales climbed by 5.6 per cent year on year and 1.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Performance was boosted by increased trading space, with the opening of more Simply Food stores.

The retailer believes there are opportunities to make the most of its reputation for quality and has added 140 lines to its Cook! range of additive and preservative-free food.

Some 450 ready-meal recipes have been altered to exclude artificial flavourings, colourings and hydrogenated fats.

'Innovation and reacting to customer trends will be a key drive for the coming year,' the retailer said. 'Our TV advertising campaign is reinforcing our quality credentials with customers.'

Visit at 3.30pm today to read a Q&A session with M&S chief executive Stuart Rose.