With Marks and Spencer food outlets having mushroomed in Hong Kong in recent years, we were curious as to which items they sold the most of each week. We were in for something of a surprise: spinach, kale, and cucumbers are among the MS bestsellers, alongside more obvious hits such as croissants and doughnuts.
Adam Colton, managing director, greater China for MS says originally they mostly sold chocolate and biscuits in the city, but in the last few years the selection has expanded to over 2,000 food products, including fruit, vegetables and ready-made food.
As we tour the shelves full of chilled items in the Central store’s food section, Colton explains that having the vegetables packaged and practically ready to use – its bags of spinach can even be put in the microwave – makes it easier for customers to prepare meals. The store recently began selling vacuum-packed fresh meat.
“We have a team here that runs the food business for a number of years. They know what the customers want and know what sells. We also experiment too to see what works and what doesn’t.
Colton says that because of the extensive range of products now available in the stores, there are fewer requests for items. “It’s only when we run out of things people are asking when we are getting it. Talking to customers is our best source of information.”
Aside from the healthy food items, chocolates and biscuits continue to sell well, and the city’s 27 MS stores shift nearly 7,000 packets of mini bites – in flavours such as chocolate cornflake, the most popular – every week.
Colton says there’s also a loyal following for Marks and Spencer’s gluten-free food range, which includes crackers biscuits, crisps and even Christmas pudding.
MS has made it even more convenient for customers to literally grab and go on the way home with two small shops in MTR stations at Central and Admiralty. “The opportunity arose and we wanted to try the smaller format. So we have ‘food on the move’, like salads, sandwiches, biscuits, crisps, but also you can pick up pasta and sauce for dinner.”
The chain recently opened its second cafe in Hong Kong, in Langham Place, Mong Kok (look out for SCMP.com’s review on Thursday), the first having opened in Cityplaza, Taikoo Shing. The cafes prepare dishes using MS food products.
“We recently relaunched the menu and that has its Britishness and healthy additions. So you can have your fish and chips and mashed avocado on toast, which is also very popular,” Colton says.
The MS bestsellers chart
Hummus 2,400 cartons per week
Kale 1,200-plus bags per week
Spinach 1,700 bags per week
Cucumbers 1,300 per week
Croissants 3,000 per week
Doughnuts 2,500 per week
Sandwiches and snacks
Tuna and cucumber sandwiches 500 per week
Blueberry and currant puffs 5,000 packs per week
Mini bites 6,300 tubs per week (chocolate cornflake mini bites alone 1,550 per week).