Marks & Spencer is poised to overtake Waitrose as it wins over growing numbers of middle class shoppers.
In the latest sign the High Street retailer has got its mojo back, industry group Nielsen yesterday said it is neck and neck with Waitrose, with each holding 3.8 per cent of the market.
It marked a major change of fortunes for the two Middle England favourites. In 2021, Waitrose held a 4.2 per cent share of the market and M&S just 3.2 per cent.
Industry experts said M&S was likely to stretch ahead of its rival for the first time this year as it opens more food stores and continues to attract customers.
This would be another setback for the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose and the department store, and its outgoing chairman Sharon White.
Star quality: Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham (pictured) has boosted M&S at the expense of Waitrose
As well as leapfrogging Waitrose, M&S is looking to extend its lead over the John Lewis department stores in terms of clothing and home sales.
The 95-year-old John Lewis Partnership has floundered in recent years, racking up a £234million loss in 2022.
Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘M&S food halls in high footfall areas, offering click and collect services for clothing and homewares, offer highly valued convenience for its growing number of customers.
‘If it can hang onto these new customers, it has a greater chance of overtaking its rival in the months to come.’
Separate data shows that the M&S clothing and home segment is increasing its lead over the John Lewis department store.
M&S has increased its slice of this market to 3.7 per cent from 3.4 per cent in 2019 and as little as 2.6 per cent in 2020 during Covid lockdowns, according to Global Data.
In contrast, John Lewis has seen its share remain broadly flat over the past five years. It held onto its 2.3 per cent slice of the market last year after it dropped from 2.4 per cent in 2022.
And Global Data forecasts that M&S will have clinched 3.9 per cent of the market by 2027 while John Lewis will be stagnant at 2.3 per cent still, according to fresh analysis seen by The Mail.
The 95-year-old John Lewis Partnership has floundered in recent years under chairman Sharon White (pictured), racking up a £234m loss in 2022
Dan Coatsworth, investment analyst at broker AJ Bell, said John Lewis ‘seems to have lost its swagger with the nation’.
But M&S has dropped its dowdy clothing ranges and lured in new and younger shoppers thanks to star-studded partnerships.
Actress Sienna Miller was the face of its autumn collection and Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham featured in its Christmas advert.
Under the guidance of chairman and retail veteran Archie Norman, chief executive Stuart Machin has continued a turnaround programme at the chain.
Investors have lauded the strategy and shares have doubled since the start of last year, even after a recent slide.
By contrast, John Lewis is considering axing 11,000 jobs and withheld its annual bonus in a bitter disappointment for staff last year.
It has been hit hard by the pandemic and high inflation.
Last month White told staff to expect ‘quite big changes and quite bold changes’ as the employee-owned business attempts to return to profit.
She is stepping down in February 2025 at the end of her five-year tenure.