MS launches new budget food range

Marks & Spencer is attempting to shed its image as a retailer for the wealthy by launching a budget-brand range of everyday food products.

Simply M&S will feature 500 items, ranging from sausage rolls to whole chickens, and will increase to 800 lines in the autumn.

The supermarket said it has cut hundreds of prices on existing products and replaced its current Wise Buys stickers, previously used to label food items on special offer, with the Simply M&S label.

The new budget line will compete with Waitrose's hugely successfully Essentials range, which the supermarket launched in 2009.

It will also go head-to-head with Tesco Everyday Value, a recently revamped version of Tesco's previous blue and white Value range that has now been designed in a similar style to Waitrose's more upmarket packaging.

Rivals Asda and Sainsbury's have already given their "no frills" ranges a makeover and report strong growth as shoppers seek out bargains.

John Dixon, executive director of food at M&S said: "M&S customers come to us for great quality food they can trust – whether shopping for special occasions or for everyday eating. We will continue to focus on delivering this through innovation and newness and also offering great value."

The new range will include staples such as 500g of beef mince at £2.49, compared to £2.67 at Waitrose and £1.56 in Tesco's Everyday Value range; an 800g loaf of white bread at the same price as Waitrose, 69p, compared with 47p at Tesco; and a tin of baked beans at 41p, undercutting Waitrose by a penny. Tesco's Everyday Value version is 27p.

Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at Kantar, said: "I think this new range will help shift the perception shoppers have that M&S is out of reach financially, or is somewhere that you go infrequently for treats. However, my reservation is that a lot of its stores are not cut out for a regular grocery shop."

Marks & Spencer will launch its promotion of the new range with a TV advertising campaign starting on 12 May.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2012

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