Marks and Spencer has revealed it is considering soft trialling an online grocery shopping service this autumn, as it looks to move into the fast growing food delivery sector.

The retailer, which already sells a limited selection of party food and alcohol on its website, has said that it is carefully reviewing an online delivery option with a view to launch a soft trial that will extend to offer a wide grocery range.

Steve Rowe, Marks and Spencer CEO, said: “We continue to review Food online carefully. It has not cost us anything over the last five years by not being online with food. Our customers haven’t moved yet, but they will and we need to ensure that we are ready with the right response.

“There are unanswered questions over what this means for M&S and we have a team looking at this now with a view to undertaking a soft trial in the autumn. The economics of food online are not straightforward and it is not something that we are going to rush into until we have substantial customer insight and a better understanding of what is right for M&S and right for our customers.”

Marks and Spencer currently has 959 UK stores, of which 370 are franchise-owned food stores branded as Simply Food and 245 that owned food stores branded either Foodhall or Simply Food.

Last year the retailer announced that it will open another 200 Simply Food stores by the end of 2018/19.

According to IGD, the online grocery channel is set to be the fastest growing part of the grocery market, almost doubling in value by 2020 to £17.2bn.