After two years of research and development, multi-channel retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) will introduce a new line of frozen ready meals at its stores in the United Kingdom on September 30. The menu of 30 “restaurant quality” dinners for two includes Pulled Pork with Potato & Kale Hash, Confit of Duck with Red Wine Jus, Mushroom & Mascarpone Pie, Lamb Moussaka with Feta Crumble, and Salmon Gratin.
M&S has long been selling prepared meals out of chilled cabinets, serving up a wide variety of dishes ranging from Braised Lamb in Redcurrant to Smoked Haddock en Croute. The new frozen assortment is being launched to tap into a market valued at £700 million in Britain, according to the company.
“We see a significant market opportunity in prepared frozen meals. Ever busier lifestyles mean that having a prepared meal ready to go in the freezer can be a big help for busy families,” said Claire Richardson, product developer at M&S.
Meanwhile, first quarter results posted by the retailer for the 13-week period that ended on June 28 showed a strong performance in its food department, which saw total sales rise 4.2% (+1.7% like-for-like) compared with +0.3% overall in UK stores.
“Our food business had a great quarter, with our strategy to be more specialist setting us apart from the competition. We continue to outperform the market,” said Marc Bolland, chief executive officer. “With value top of mind for customers, we remained price competitive while protecting our gross margin. We launched some 700 new products giving customers more choice than ever. We are on track with the pipeline of 150 new Simply Food stores opening over the next three years.”
Food sales account for 55% of the chain’s turnover, compared with 45% for general merchandise. M&S operates 798 stores across Britain, of which approximately 500 will initially carry the new frozen ready meals line.