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From Tuesday, Marks & Spencer will begin doing something many of its competitors have been doing for years – it is making its full food range available to order online.

M&S has bought a 50% share of Ocado’s retail business, which gives the grocer an internet-based delivery service for the first time.

The launch comes at a crucial time for M&S, which is cutting 7,000 jobs. But analysts are divided on the wisdom of the deal.

One expert, Kate Hardcastle, told the BBC that M&S had “taken a long time” to enter the online grocery market and that expectations were high.

But another analyst, Richard Hyman, said the move could erode the retailer’s profits and was “a big mistake”.

Until now, the only M&S food available online has been party food and celebration dinners to order or, in certain locations, a limited range of about 130 M&S food and household items through Deliveroo.

For existing customers of Ocado, it means big changes.

In the past, consumers who wanted to buy into Waitrose’s upmarket image without busting their budget had the option of choosing from the supermarket’s Essential Waitrose range.

But now they will need to take their pick from M&S’s Remarksable Value range instead.

Shoppers can now choose from 6,000 M&S food items, alongside Ocado own-label goods and big-name branded items.

M&S has vowed that all its replacement products will be the same price as, or cheaper than, the equivalent Waitrose items.

M&S and Ocado say that their joint offer now amounts to more than 50,000 products, which they say is “double that of the next largest grocery retailer”.

But if Ocado customers don’t like the new set-up, they have the option of switching to Waitrose’s own delivery service, Waitrose.com.

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