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Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
M&S in e-commerce drive
Exterior of a M&S store
M&S is throwing off its old-fashioned image
The UK retail chain Marks & Spencer has announced deals with four high-profile partners to spearhead its drive into e-commerce.

Throwing off its old-fashioned image, M&S has signed agreements to sell its products online with Microsoft Network and the BBC's internet shopping portal beeb.com.

Digital and interactive TV sales will also become possible as a result of alliances concluded with BSkyB's Open and cable TV company Telewest.

"Today's announcement is the first indication of how Marks & Spencer aims to drive its position as a leading multi-channel retailer," chairman Luc Vandevelde said in a statement.

Attractive costs

The partnerships meant that M&S would "be able to acquire new customers at very attractive costs," said Keith Bogg, M&S's director of home and new selling channels.

MSN is the UK's most visited internet destination while the Open deal would provide access to 3.8 million subscribers, M&S said.

M&S said it would have more than 3,000 products available on its website by Christmas.

These would be mainly clothing and home products but, in time, M&S would also sell food and offer financial services via the internet or interactive TV.

By summer 2001, all in-store products would be available over the internet and other digital channels while the e-commerce division as a whole would be profitable by 2003, M&S said.

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