M&S rolls out urban farming scheme in 7 London stores

Marks & Spencer has rolled out the first phase of its in-store urban farming trial to seven locations in London as part of its new partnership with Infarm.

The roll out means a selection of herbs are now freshly grown and harvested in M&S stores in Bromley, Ealing Broadway, Kensington, Kings Road, Marble Arch and Stratford City, alongside the launch store site at Clapham Junction.

The retailer used trading data of its existing fresh herb range to identify the right sites for the first stage of roll out.

Infarm uses farming technology that combines vertical farming units with IOT technologies and machine learning, to deliver a controlled eco-system with light, air and nutrients.

Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one.

M&S is Infarm’s first UK partner and the first vertical farming unit was installed at the Clapham Junction store in mid-September.

“M&S Food is transforming but as we modernise, we’re protecting the magic and the things customers love about our food – like great innovation and delicious tasting quality products and our in-farm partnership helps us deliver exactly that,” M&S Food Clapham Junction store manager Joe Erskine said.

“Our farming unit has been a real talking point since we re-opened in September and is helping change the perception of M&S Food in the local area.

“The farm brings a feeling of real freshness to our product offer and customers have been keen to discuss its sustainability benefits too.”

Each in-store farm unit uses 95 per cent less water and 75 per cent less fertiliser than traditional soil-based agriculture.

Source: Retail Gazette