Marks and Spencer has committed over £20M to a technology fund managed by True, as the retailer aims to continue it’s push towards a digital-first business.
Marks and Spencer has worked with True since 2018, however this represents the first significant financial commitment, with its latest fund aiming to raise about £50m with Marks and Spencer acting as the lead investor.
This latest move follows the retailer’s increased investment in technology under the new management team, led by chair Archie Norman.
True manages and operates a network of private-equity style vehicles, bringing together consumer businesses and technology start-ups.
It has about £600m under management, including investments in workplace wellness app Unmind, staff rostering system Rotaready and online furniture retailer Cotswold.
Eoin Tonge, chief financial officer of Marks and Spencer, said the partnership “had already led to some fruitful commercial engagements” such as bringing childrenswear brand Frugi on to the retailer’s website.
He said “We’re starting to think about the next growth sectors for us, things that could be relevant in five years or more.”
Matt Truman, co-founder of True, said. “I’ve been involved with M&S since Archie became chair and he’s been the key driving force in that cultural change. He’s always been very clear about the ‘buy, build or partner’ approach.”