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Marks & Spencer to bring its food products to India

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In a bid to tap the growing demand for quality food products in the country, UK-based Marks & Spencer (M&S) plans to introduce its food items in some of its department stores, according to three people familiar with the development.

M&S is planning to launch its food products early next year in two of the DLF-owned malls in the National Capital Region (NCR), almost 14 years after it formed a joint venture with Reliance Retail.

M&S operates department stores in DLF’s properties including Mall of India in Noida, DLF Avenue in Saket in New Delhi and DLF CyberHub in Gurgaon.

As a global business, the UK department store chain sells high-quality food and clothing, and home ranges in over 100 different markets, according to a spokesperson for M&S.

“We have significant ambitions to further grow our business in India with our partner Reliance and we’re always looking at how we can offer the most relevant ranges to our local customers. However, as of today, we have no immediate plans to introduce M&S Food to the market,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response.

However, two of the three sources Indiaretailing.com is quoting for this story are people with direct knowledge of the plans.

“M&S is currently deciding on the menu and what food items to introduce in India,” the person with direct knowledge of the matter said. The second person with direct knowledge of the plans said the UK retailer has been planning the option for a while and it has gathered pace this year.

The third source said DLF is currently “creating space” or planning to add space to existing M&S department stores in two of the DLF-owned malls.

“M&S plans to pilot with one or two stores, to begin with,” said the source requesting anonymity.

In the early 2010s, selling food items by foreign companies in India was a sensitive subject and it took years for IKEA to get government approvals to incorporate their trademark IKEA café in its large outlets.

Currently, the Swedish furniture and home products giant IKEA sells food items like jams, pastas, packaged salmons, sauces, biscuits, and cookies among other eatable items through its cafeteria that are an integral part of their large stores. IKEA operates three large warehouse-size stores in the range of 400,000 sq ft in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru, in addition to two relatively smaller version outlets in Mumbai.

 Last month, M&S launched its new range of vegetarian meals, Veggie in the UK amid growing demand for more vegetarian choices from customers. The vegetarian range includes a choice of 14 delicious vegetarian meals like Veggie Roasted Butternut Risotto and Veggie Roasted Mushroom Ravioli that are developed by the retailer’s in-house chefs.

M&S could introduce some of the vegetarian offerings in India as well, one of the sources of the information said.