Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

M&S to sell 400 brands at stores

Chief executive Stuart Rose: "Customers said they wanted it"

Marks and Spencer has confirmed it will start selling branded goods at its stores across the UK.

It will mean 400 household brands, such as Kellogg's and Coca-Cola, will be sold alongside M&S' own products in a wide range of lines.

The decision comes after successful trials in stores in the north-east and south-east of England.

The announcement came as M&S reported profits of £306.7m for the six months to September.

The figure was little-changed on the profit of £307.8m made in the same period last year.

'Cautious' outlook

M&S said the move to stock branded goods would enable it to "meet more of our customers' regular shopping needs".

Chief executive Sir Stuart Rose told the BBC the company was rolling out key brands, such as Tabasco sauce and Bovril, to satisfy customers

"Customers are saying to us that I like my favourite brand... and you, Marks and Spencer, don't sell it so I have to go somewhere else to buy it," Sir Stuart said.

He said M&S would not reduce its own range of foods.

M&S said it would focus mostly on "low market share" areas such as laundry, personal care, beer and pet food.

Overall, the firm's food sales were up 1.8% - though they fell by 0.3% on a like-for-like basis in the half-year.

M&S said it was "cautious" about prospects for the key Christmas sales period this year.

Sir Stuart said that the market remained "competitive" and added that the retailer was also cautious about the year ahead.

Total sales rose 2.8% to £4.3bn, largely driven by growth outside the UK. But the company saw its UK same-store sales decline by 0.9%.

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