NOT JUST ANY CAFÉ: M&S EXTENDS ITS STORE RENEWAL PROGRAMME WITH FIRST OPENING OF NEW-LOOK M&S CAFÉ AT SOLIHULL SEARS
M&S has opened its first new look M&S Café at its new Solihull Sears store this week, as the retailer drives forward its transformative store renewal programme and extends its scope into hospitality.
Now in sixteen stores across the country, renewal is all about modernising the way M&S brings its products to customers, better showcasing the quality, value and freshness of its Food offer, alongside innovative new concepts in areas such as Fill Your Own and Coffee Tasting, backed by more efficient store operations.
M&S continues to receive consistent positive customer feedback in relation to its renewal stores – particularly around the depth of range, store design and focus on key grocery lines in areas like Fresh & Produce.
Not just any cafe
Located at Sears Retail Park in Solihull, the new Café is a test and learn renewal concept in hospitality. The new format is designed to deliver a complete step-change through its inviting store design, improved range, food quality & freshness combined with improved coffee creditionals. The new format has been completely re-designed as a new café operating model focusing on a digital customer experience with on-screen and on-phone ordering. Other key highlights include:
- Delicious, quality food at great value: The M&S Food Development team have transformed the café menu to ensure it offers something for all the family, with a focus on healthier options and children’s meals. The Cafe will use the same delicious, trusted-quality ingredients on offer to customers in M&S Foodhalls, producing meals that are freshly prepared, beautifully served, always tasty and great value. Exciting new additions to the menu include:
- Children’s meal deal: parents & grandparents can bring their little ones and take advantage of the fantastic value on offer, which is unique to Solihull Sears. Enjoy a freshly made meal, drink and (free) banana for just £2.95 for breakfast (pre-11.30am) or £3.95 for lunch (after 11.30am).
- Breakfast bowls: the perfect way to start the day, with three fruity options available, including a vegan option from just £3.95.
- New vegan options: from a delicious flatbread that contains roasted mushrooms, spiced chickpeas and more, to the roasted butternut houmous & grain salad bowl garnished with date & pomegranate dressing & seed sprinkle.
- Delicious coffee: specially trained Baristas use M&S’s Fairtrade coffee beans, organic milk and cutting-edge equipment (including a new pour-over coffee machine) to produce great tasting coffee: whether it’s a Cappuccino, Flat White, or, new for the summer, Iced Caramel Frappe.
- Quick & easy ordering: Customers can place their order in seconds either via their smartphone at their table or via the new self-service digital screens. QR codes are in place at every table offering easy access to the menu.
- Plan A credentials: All food is prepared on site and, to reduce packaging, the refrigerator that usually houses packaged sandwiches and bottled drinks has been removed. All milk is organic, all coffee is Fairtrade, and there is a water refill station for customers.
- Improved look & feel: There’s new crockery, new furniture, and overall a much more modern and inspiring aesthetic.
- Great service: Colleague roles have been split out and reassigned to allow colleagues to become masters of their craft and better serve customers. It means Baristas can focus on Coffee, Chefs can focus on Food and a dedicated Hospitality Manager can bring the overall leadership and operation together.
A key part of the shopping experience
Whether it’s a spot of lunch in between clothes shopping, a quick bite-to-eat after picking up a Click & Collect order, or a family breakfast trip out, for many customers, visiting the M&S Café is a key part of the shopping experience.
With its estate of 350 cafes, hospitality represents a sizeable chunk of M&S’s trading space in the UK and is consistently a key topic for contacts from customers each week – underlining its important role in the M&S customer experience. M&S is committed to offering the best possible dining experience for its customers, no matter which café they visit.
Caroline Cromar, Head of Hospitality at M&S said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have opened our first Café transformation in Solihull this week. The Café has been developed to create a warm and inviting space for our customers to relax as part of their shopping experience. The new operating model allows for a seamless ordering process and improved speed, whilst delivering exceptional M&S quality food and drink that our customers know and trust.”
The story of renewal at M&S
The opening of Solihull Sears this week marks M&S’s sixteenth Food renewal store, following recent refurbishments of M&S Stratford City (below), M&S Wolstanton, M&S Gyle and M&S Lisburn, and new store openings at Paisley, Staines and Straiton. A further 24 renewal stores are planned for the 21/22 financial year, taking the total to 40, while a further two renewal cafes are in the pipeline as M&S tests and learns the concept.
The M&S renewal strategy is all about creating magical stores that offer the efficiency of a supermarket and the soul of a fresh food market. These stores have increased produce, bakery, ambient grocery and frozen ranges, as well as innovative concepts like Fill Your Own, Percy Pig World, Wine Tasting and Ceramic Pizza Ovens – all laid out in an inspiring and aesthetically-pleasing format.
Customer feedback at each renewal store so far has been excellent, with particular praise being given to the stores’ refreshed look and feel. Sales at the initial trial stores outside of Covid-affected city centres grew by 15% last year too – early signs of an impressive return on investment.
Stuart Machin, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of M&S Food said: “We’re relentlessly focussed on protecting the magic of our delicious, great quality M&S Food at fantastic value whilst at the same time modernising how we bring these products to our customers – and that’s what our Store Renewal programme is all about. We’ve seen our renewal store concepts deliver a bigger, better and fresher experience for customers across Food and we’re excited to expand the programme further this year. With hospitality being a key part of the M&S shopping experience for many of our customers, by testing our café renewal format in Solihull, we hope to cement our reputation as a great destination for families.”
For more information, please contact:
M&S External Communications
0208 718 1919