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M&S forced to delay delivery times

Retail giant Marks & Spencer admitted yesterday that it had been forced to extend delivery times for online orders as a new distribution centre has struggled to cope with heavy Christmas demand.

Improving its online offer is a central plank of M&S's strategy to reverse nearly a decade of market share decline in its clothing business.

The retailer had attracted a jump in orders during its four-day promotion, which started at the end of last month to coincide with "Black Friday" events across the industry.

To ensure delivery options offered to customers were accurate, M&S extended slots on its website for standard delivery from three to five days to as many as 10 days and withdrew next-day delivery, prompting some complaints on social media.

"Our customer is always our top priority and that is why we've extended some of our delivery options," M&S said.

"The vast majority of orders are delivered on time. If we do miss a delivery date, we will do all we can to rectify it for the customer." The retailer's fully automated 900,000 square foot, e-commerce distribution centre in Castle Donington, central England, opened in April last year and was scheduled to reach full capacity in the run-up to Christmas this year.

"It's the first Christmas of having it all there. With an operation of that scale, you are going to get some on-site challenges," a spokesman said.