Marks & Spencer's beers, wines and spirits strategy analysed
Wine has always been an integral part of the Marks & Spencer proposition. It enjoys an exalted position, with producers clamouring to climb aboard its prized supplier podium. Wine accounts for a massive 85% of total BWS at the retailer, but BWS trading manager Gary Brooking and his team are also focused on developing the hitherto underperforming beers and spirits sector of the business. “We’re taking beer to a new level,” Brooking tells OLN. “We’re starting from a small base, but it’s a significant focus for us.”
The company is also investing in a major revamp of the department layout. So far 20 stores have undergone refits to provide a “softer, more wine merchant look and feel, with better theatre and easier navigation”. A further 30-40 refits are planned for this year. More focused customer communication includes clearer on-shelf signage and redesigned own-brand back labels with shorter, relevant information across the entire range within 12 months.
Kingsland and Liberty are cited as best in class. “They get it, they think end to end about what makes the business work,” says Brooking. “We need to be increasingly agile. We need to work with suppliers who tick the boxes on our quality agenda, but deliver at the highest level on availability.”