Sixteen Marks & Spencer (M&S) stores are to benefit from new-style in-store bakeries (ISBs), as part of a £600m plan by chief executive Mark Bolland to revamp its stores, as the retailer aims to “catch up” with its competition.

The first new-look store opened on Kensington High Street, London last week. ‘The Bakery’ had been overhauled, and featured speciality breads displayed in rustic wicker baskets and wooden trays. Chalk boards have also been used to promote the fresh products.

Nayna McIntosh, director of store marketing and design at M&S, said the retailer wanted it to have “the look and feel of a small artisan bakery”. It has also revamped its bread and sweet bakery ranges, with 35 new lines, including German-style rye bread, San Francisco-style sourdough, and Melting Middle Muffins.

An M&S spokesperson said the initiative was very much at a trial stage, and that each new-style ISB would be in a slightly different format. “We want to take a step towards more speciality foods. We’ve got bakers in the store, making bread on-site from raw ingredients,” she added.

Planet Retail analyst David Gray said M&S was essentially “playing catch-up” with a lot of its competition. He said: “If you look at M&S’ food range, you tend to find a strong focus on pre-prepared foods and ready meals, which doesn’t cater for the trend of people choosing to cook or bake more from scratch.”

Tom Molnar, chief executive of Bread, which supplies its artisan retail outlets Gail’s, agreed that the retailer is following a trend established by other bakeries. “But it’s a positive trend for bakers overall, and it shows people are really interested in fresh bread.” However, he questioned whether the aesthetics would be backed up by the quality of ingredients and the skills utilised by artisan bakers.

Hobbs House Bakery’s retail director Sam Wells said it was an interesting move by the retailer, and that his bakery would be keeping an eye on it.

The new ISBs will open in Sheffield, Bromley, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Leeds, Kings Road, Beckenham, Exeter, Tamworth, Edgware Road, Bishops Stortford, Handforth Dean, Wimbledon, Pantheon, Kensington and Stratford.