M&S adds its name to the wedding list

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The Independent Online
CUPID'S arrow has struck the unlikely person of Sir Richard Greenbury, gruff chairman of Marks & Spencer. Next Monday, the day after St Valentine's, M&S is to launch a nationwide wedding list service, challenging the traditional preserve of John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges and other department stores, writes Patrick Hosking.

About 400,000 couples marry each year. They and their friends and relations spend an estimated pounds 1.4bn on the wedding, much of it on wedding gifts. Sir Richard wants to see some of that money ending up in M&S tills.

Under the M&S service, couples choose gifts from a special catalogue and record their wishes on a central computer. Their wedding guests can then see the list in any of 35 stores, from Aberdeen to Torquay - and when they buy, the list is instantly updated.

According to Alison Reed, executive, home furnishings, M&S plans to roll the service out to more stores very quickly. She says it is the first nationwide service and the products will be competitively priced.

M&S has widened its home furnishings range to include nuptial favourites such as bone china, crystal glassware and canteens of cutlery. Its fledgling home furnishings division has outpaced both food and clothing in sales growth in the past six months.

Ms Reed dismisses any suggestion that shoppers may not instantly think of M&S for wedding presents. 'We're the biggest bedding retailer in the country. We have a large market share of kitchenware and tableware.'