Marks and Spencer will begin selling food online after sealing a deal with Ocado (Justin TALLIS)

London (AFP) – UK retailer Marks and Spencer on Wednesday announced a deal with online supermarket Ocado to deliver M&S food direct to homes, as customers increasingly move to internet shopping.

M&S, which already sells its clothing online and is shutting stores, is buying 50 percent of Ocado’s UK retail business for up to £750 million ($994 million, 874 million euros), the two companies said in statements to the London Stock Exchange.

M&S branded food products will be sold online by September 2020 following the termination of Ocado’s current such deal with supermarket group Waitrose.

“I have always believed that M&S food could and should be online,” said Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe.

“Combining the strength of our food offer with leading online and delivery capability is a compelling proposition to drive long-term growth.”

Ocado said the 50/50 joint venture would “transform online grocery shopping in the UK”.

It added: “The grocery retail sector is undergoing significant and rapid change as customer expectations evolve and as spending shifts online.”

Marks and Spencer is meanwhile in the process of shutting more than 100 stores by 2022.

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