Our market-leading innovation brought over 1,900 new lines into our Food Halls this year. From new international dishes to healthy eating ranges, our innovative products kept customers coming back – offering greater choice and catering for their changing tastes and priorities.

With value front of mind for customers, we ensured our offer remained competitive through a combination of independent weekly price matching and well targeted offers. We offset the commodity price rises in the market, thanks to stronger management of stock and promotions.

The introduction of our Simply M&S range, coupled with everyday promotions such as our 3 for £10 offer on meat and fish, helped customers get even better value from their weekly shop. Despite limited budgets, customers were determined to enjoy time with friends and family and make the most of special occasions. Our iconic Dine In deal supported this desire to enjoy restaurant quality food at home and proved consistently popular.

Quality, trust and provenance continue to underpin everything we do – from our relationships with suppliers to the products we sell. In a year when the industry was affected by supply chain issues, our commitment to provenance served us well, as customers continued to trust M&S to deliver responsibly sourced, quality produce. All our beef, pork, salmon, poultry and in-season lamb is sourced from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Our commitment has been acknowledged by numerous awards this year – including the Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Supply Chain Excellence award.

Quality at great value

In a highly competitive market we launched Simply M&S: a range of 700 everyday food items that offer M&S quality at great value prices. Hundreds of prices were lowered and new lines added to give customers even more choice. All Simply M&S eggs are free range, bacon is British and all tea and coffee is Fairtrade – underlining our uncompromising sourcing standards. The range complements existing lines and highlights M&S’ superb quality and value under one clear brand. Since launch, we have sold over 350 million products.

Our high ethical and sourcing standards continue to set us apart from the competition. Our standards are industry recognised; our leading animal welfare policies earned us the Compassion In World Farming Good Pig Award and our fish is recognised by the Marine Conservation Society for best-in-class sustainable seafood practices. Our bespoke feeding programme provides our Scottish Lochmuir™ salmon with exceptional flavour and we sold 10.8 million packs of fresh and smoked salmon this year, up 16%.

Despite 2012 being one of the wettest years on record, we maintained supplies of high quality fresh produce, thanks to our collaborative supplier relationships. We delivered the finest soft fruits throughout the summer, including the exclusive ‘Driscoll Diamond’ strawberry, especially named in honour of The Queen’s celebrations. Over the extended Jubilee week we sold a record one million punnets of strawberries to customers celebrating at home.

4 ways to Cook Fish – poached

Innovation and choice

M&S is recognised for pioneering product innovation and this year we continued to lead the way. We offered customers even more choice through constant innovation and first-to-market products, launching 1,900 new lines and refreshing 25% of our entire range.

We strengthened our position as market leader in international recipe dishes, with the launch of España – the high street’s first range of contemporary Spanish cuisine, which uses authentic ingredients such as Oloroso sherry and pimento de le vera. We also introduced a new Modern Asian range; inspired by the continent’s aromatic, vibrant flavours. Our most popular dish is the Wok Beef Noodles selling over 210,000 items since launch.

Our product developers responded to the latest restaurant trends, with a number of high street firsts. We received industry recognition for our Runny Scotch Egg; developed using the complex sous vide technique, it contains a perfect runny centre. Customers loved our twist on this classic British favourite, with over 165,000 sold to date. Capitalising on the Dim Sum trend, we introduced delicious Chinese steamed pork buns in time for Chinese New Year celebrations in February. Made with succulent, slow cooked shredded pork in hoisin and soy sauce, we sold over 20,000 packs.

Trusted for the most important occasions

When it matters most, customers turn to us for something truly special. Our reputation for innovation, coupled with exceptional quality, means M&S has become a destination of choice for customers looking to make celebrations more memorable. This helped us deliver a record Christmas, with M&S outperforming the market in the two key festive trading weeks, followed by our best ever Easter week.

We also provided customers with inspirational gifts and treats to mark special occasions. We sold over 1.5 million Valentine’s Day chocolates, up 10% and sold over two million bouquets and plants in the week before Mothers Day, up 6.5%. Our online flower ordering business continues to grow, as customers enjoyed the convenience of gifting on the go.

Our online Food to Order offer makes entertaining even easier, with party-sized portions and helpful menu suggestions. Our Christmas Food to Order proved extremely popular, with over 400,000 orders placed during the festive period, up 5%. Our Wine Direct business was up 25% this year as more customers ordered our award-winning wines and champagnes by the case for delivery straight to their door.

Food to order – an introduction

Service and speciality

Our new store format has now been applied to over two-thirds of our Food Halls, improving the shopping experience, providing elements of theatre and reinforcing our position as a specialist food retailer. Selected stores now include delis and we have rolled out artisan bakeries to 330 stores, including 161 Simply Food stores. Bakery sales are up 20% as a result.

This improved in store experience, was enhanced by even better customer service. Our Customer Ready Food initiative gave employees ownership of zoned areas within the Food Halls – ensuring they remained visually appealing and well stocked. New videos and learning resources helped improve employees’ product knowledge, enabling them to provide expert advice on the latest food innovations and trends.

Through our ongoing supply chain improvements and the implementation of our new space, range and display system, we further improved availability and we remain on track to deliver our 5% improvement target by 2013/14.