Marks & Spencer is offering its full food range online for the first time from today in a tie-up with Ocado.
The launch comes after Ocado split with its former delivery partner Waitrose after two decades.
M&S already sells clothes and other products online but is entering the grocery delivery market years behind rivals.
The launch will see its full range of 6,000 food products made available with Ocado Retail, together with Ocado’s own label goods and branded lines.
Among them are M&S’s popular Percy Pigs – with 20,000 packets already ordered prior to the launch and 10 Ocado vans branded with the sweets’ brand’s logo to mark the occasion.
The venture is being launched after Marks & Spencer last year agreed a £750m deal to buy a 50% stake in Ocado’s retail arm – which is separate from Ocado’s business selling its delivery know-how to global retailers.
It comes as the coronavirus places severe pressure on the wider M&S business, with sales of its clothing and homeware particularly badly hit.
Thousands of job cuts have been announced as the company seeks to accelerate its transformation under a “never the same again” strategy prompted by the pandemic.
The launch of the food delivery venture comes at a time when online grocery sales are enjoying strong growth as consumer shopping habits are transformed by the virus.
Stuart Machin, managing director of M&S Food, said: “Taking our full food range online for the first time is transformative.”
Meanwhile, Waitrose has invested in an expansion of its standalone online operations and is stressing the exclusivity of lines such as Duchy Originals via its own platform.
Last week the supermarket, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership – also struggling in the face of the pandemic – announced a trial tie-up with Deliveroo to delivery groceries in just 30 minutes.
Ocado boss Tim Steiner has fired a parting shot at his former partners, taking aim at an ad by Waitrose marking the end of the tie-up that pledged: “We’ll take it from here.”
Mr Steiner told The Sunday Times: “Well, they can’t take it from here because they don’t have the technology, the infrastructure or the systems.”