The retail giant will invest in growing startups sourced through Founders Factory’s global network.
The investment programme is designed to expose the business to new technologies, business models and entrepreneurial thinking, as M&S seeks to put digital at the heart of its transformation strategy to tackle difficult High Street conditions.
Steve Rowe, CEO at M&S, said: “Partnering with Founders Factory as their exclusive retail partner gives M&S access to a global network of start-ups and entrepreneurs which will provide disruptive thinking and questioning to the way we work at a time of critical transformation within the business. Founders Factory have a great track record in creating successful businesses and by investing in new innovative technologies and products we hope to change the way we work and operate.”
Founders Factory was co-founded by Brent Hoberman, founder of lastminute.com, and Henry Lane Fox, who has worked to support startups through a range of ventures, including Founders Forum and Founders Intelligence. The business is focused on launching and scaling startups across a range of sectors.
The Founders Factory accelerator invests in 35 startups every year. It provides cash, 6 months of bespoke support, and commercial opportunities from investors. To date the accelerator has backed and built over 60 companies, with the aim of supporting 245 within 5 years.
Brent Hoberman, co-founder and executive chairman, Founders Factory, said: “We are excited to partner with M&S as our exclusive retail investor in the UK and combine the company’s scale and experience to support early-stage founders. We have seen the huge potential of combining startup innovation with corporate scale and expertise, and so we are excited by this new chapter in a sector that is changing rapidly through technology.”
The launch of Founders Factory Retail bolsters the ongoing transformation of M&S, which is seeking to place digital at the heart of the business. M&S recently announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft, which is testing the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment.