Marks and Spencer

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Marks and Spencer

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Review of "Marks and Spencer"

published 25/05/2001 | weebagpuss
Member since : 30/09/2000
Reviews : 113
Members who trust : 132
About me :
Pro excellent quality food, great range of products, helpful staff
Cons a little pricey (but worth it!!)
very helpful
Value for money
Layout & presentation
Selection & range

"Fantastic Feasts"

I’m happy to wave my hand in the air and admit that I am a HUGE fan of the Marks and Spencer foodhalls. I know I probably don’t fit in with the stereotypical image of an M&S shopper, but I absolutely adore their foodhalls. With all the talk in the media at the moment of Marks’ failing fortunes, I felt it was about time they were defended by one of their biggest fans. Being a Marks addict runs in the family – some of my earliest memories are of complaining when my Mum used to drag me round the store – luckily my views changed as I grew up!

One of the main criticisms, and one which I will tackle first, is that Marks are too expensive if compared to a normal supermarket. To be honest, price isn’t always a major consideration for me (and you’re probably going to want to hit me now) because my parents gave me my own M&S chargecard on their account when I turned 18. However, I don’t want to take advantage of their generosity, so I do still try to shop sensibly.

Other reviews have complained that the price of Marks’ fruit and veg are too high. OK, I admit that they are sometimes higher than you would find in, for example, my local Tesco Metro. But oh boy is the quality different! I have bought pre-packed salads from Tesco in the past which have fermented in the bag BEFORE their sell by date, whereas from Marks, I frequently find that the product remains in as good a condition as the day it was purchased even a few days after the sell by date. I don’t have the time to keep going shopping – I want my food to last as long as possible, and Marks definitely comes up trumps here. Lettuces and cucumbers in particular always seem to have the edge over their supermarket rivals.

There are two different categories of fruit and veg here – the loose produce which will be weighed at the checkout, and the pre-packed selections. The pre-packed goods do work out as a lot more expensive – but to be honest, I can’t be bothered spending ages preparing vegetables in the evening, I would rather spend time on the net or Ciao (there’s the sign of a true addict!!) and so these are ideal. It’s also fiddly for a single person who might want to eat maybe three different types of veg in the evening to buy them all separately and then prepare them. Marks’ mixed salads and vegetables are ideal. A couple of personal favourites are the layered vegetables, which is a tub of grated courgette, carrot, broccoli and maybe swede(?) arranged in layers, and also the bag of mixed ribbon vegetables that they do.

Indeed, one of the reasons I most like Marks is that they do cater admirably for the single person. Unless you want to eat the same meal day after day, I’ve found out that it can work out fairly expensive to cook just for yourself every day. Plus of course, I hate cooking! That’s why Marks suits me. They do a fantastic selection of ready meals in a variety of ranges with some more interesting choices than you would find in the local supermarket. The Italian range for example does all the macaroni cheeses, lasagnes, spag bols etc that you would expect, but also a few more unusual options. Personally, I don’t think that these are any more expensive than their Tesco equivalent. Sometimes Marks do special offers – buy one get one free, and since much of their range is safe to be frozen, you can really stock up. Other single person meals include different chicken meals, chicken in red wine and mushrooms for example, sweet and sour chicken, chicken casserole with dumplings, and a great selection of veggie meals.

Marks are really on to a winner with their vegetarian range. With so many people turning vegetarian, or eating veggie meals for the sake of their health, Marks are meeting the need in the market. The have managed to create interesting vegetarian meals in their own right, not merely the frozen meat substitutes which I find make up most of the Tesco range. My favourite veggie meals in Marks include their Leek and Gruyere tartlets – these are absolutely delicious and just writing this is making my mouth water!

Another important factor is the labelling of their products. I am a big fan of the way Marks have set out all the relevant product information – standardising it so there is uniformity between products. They are easy to read and well presented. Cooking instructions are also very clear, and there is often a strong focus on microwaveable products. That suits me down to the ground. You could easily give a dinner party just using food from M&S – it’s what I would do. Who wants to spend ages slaving over the oven when Marks have done it all for you?!

Marks are also ideal for the family as well as the individual. Busy mums who don’t have time to cook from scratch can benefit here, with a great range of pies, meats, and fish. There’s a psecial chidlren’s range too, with pictures of a tooth on each product! I must confess to having bought something from this range – some fishy shapes – like fish fingers but shaped like fish. They tasted great and would certainly appeal to children.

You can get your entire week’s shop here too, with Marks doing everything that you would find in a supermarket – tea, coffee, milk, bread, cake, flour and cooking sauces etc. They’ve also branched out into cleaning products. This is great – if you’re short on time, everything you want can be found under the one roof. I don’t agree that the groceries are necessarily any more expensive – bread for example doesn’t seem to be any pricier than the brand I would usually buy. One of my favourite ever products from Marks is their instant cappuccinos. At 99p for five, they are not cheap, especially considering the number I get through! I always fill one carrier bag up just with these alone!

Chocolates and sweets are another section you won’t want to miss – unless you’re on a diet! These can be pricey but are of a quality comparable to that of Thorntons. The Italian collection contains a fantastic selection of truffles – ideal for Christmas or to give someone as a birthday present. (I’ve often bought people chocs from here but then eaten them myself, lol!)

Marks is great for lunches too. You can either buy fillings for your sandwiches (smoked salmon, cucumber and dill – yummy!!) or select from a whole range of lunchtime foods. The stores in London and other big cities offer the best ranges, with a fast track queuing system. You can pick up an orange juice for only 60p, far cheaper than buying one in a café. There are more ‘unusual’ products here than you might find in your bog standard Tescos.

Layout of the foodhall is also top class. Aisles are wide enough to manoeuvre your shopping trolley with ease, and products are easily accessible and within reach. If you can’t find what you are looking for, the staff are generally extremely helpful. I used to work here so I should know!! Food is restocked every so often, and nothing is allowed to be sold if it has past its sell by date. I used to love working here as at the end of the day, there was what was known as ‘waste’, where all the products reaching their sell by date were sold to the staff at incredibly cheap prices. I once got a huge packet of salmon for only £3. Checkouts are usually fast moving (well, they were when I was working there!) and the staff do more than just grunt at you, as I find my local Tescos staff do. Marks do take good care of their staff and so they are rewarded with good service in return.

My only quibbles with Marks are firstly the fact that sometimes I find a product that I really like, and then they discontinue it (however, I suppose this is good in a way as they do introduce new ranges and it forces me to try something new) and secondly, there is no loyalty card or scheme. Finally, and I’m not sure I’d class this as a disadvantage, since in a way it can be perceived as a benefit, you can’t always find the same products in the Scottish stores as in the South East.

Overall then, I highly recommend Marks. You may be paying a little more, but think of all the effort that it’s saving you if you go for the pre-packed options! The meals always taste great, are easy to cook, and made from high quality ingredients. Marks screams out high quality at you, and if you’re prepared to pay for this, you’ll be a very happy customer indeed.

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Comments on this review

  • Disillusioned published 06/04/2005
    Good review...I work there at a Simply Food M&S and love being able to get waste! I've always thought there should be a Simply Food in St. Andrews..or at least my brother does as he lives up there lol. Shame they've gone down a bit it seems in recent years.
  • Mclbee published 16/08/2003
    i agree a little pricey but i do believe in good quality food... great op!
  • magic5284 published 20/07/2003
    Hey, v good op!! Marks and Sparks is waaaaay to expensive tho! Esp for me, im only a poor student!! I will just have to treat myself!! Victoria xx
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Product Information : Marks and Spencer

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Listed on Ciao since: 09/11/2000