Marks and Spencer has completed its tie-up with Ocado, embarking on a journey that will make it a digital-first retailer and give customers access to its full range.
The 50/50 joint venture comprises Ocado’s UK grocery business, supported by its Smart Platform technology.
To date, access to the full M&S range has been limited to around a dozen stores but from September 2020 over three-quarters of the UK population will be able to buy more than 6,500 M&S food products via Ocado.com.
Alongside these items, shoppers will have access to Ocado’s exclusive brands and own-label products, as well as popular branded goods.
The JV will also see certain members of staff switching roles. Ocado Retail has appointed M&S strategy director Melanie Smith as its chief executive, while Lawrence Hene, currently the interim managing director of Ocado Retail, has been named deputy chief executive for a transitional period before moving back to a senior role within the Ocado group.
M&S chief executive Steve Rowe and food managing director Stuart Machin will become directors of Ocado Retail.
Rowe said: “I have always believed that M&S Food could and should be online. The addition of Ocado to our family of businesses marks M&S’s first truly transformational step in shaping our future as a digital-first retailer.
“Through its unique technology, Ocado has developed the most cost-advantaged model in online grocery retail and our new partnership unlocks growth for M&S Food through an immediately profitable, scalable presence in the UK’s fastest growing grocery sales channel.”
He added: “I am absolutely delighted that our JV will be led by Melanie. She is a real talent; who combines extensive retail knowledge, strategic vision and a focus on delivery.”
Ocado Retail will continue to trade as Ocado.com and M&S products will be available on the platform from September 2020 at the latest.
M&S said it expects Ocado Retail to generate around £70m of synergies for M&S Food by the third year of the joint venture, through a combination of increased buying scale, improved sourcing economies to M&S own label and branded goods, and a significant reduction in product trial and development costs.