Marks & Spencer has signed a deal with IBM to implement SAP retail applications in a bid to use IT to improve stock visibility and data management.

The retailer will implement a range of SAP retail applications, which will provide it with accurate business data and "robust core processes" that will help the store chain to reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies.

Darrell Stein, director of IT and logistics at M&S, said: “In order to provide the very best customer service, we need to be flexible and agile to their changing needs. The SAP solution, implemented by IBM, will allow us to do that.”

The programme also has an environmental component, as the increased accuracy of business data will help M&S monitor and report its environmentally friendly activities.

Under the deal, IBM will manage the IT programme and change management, as well as business process consulting, services.

M&S has been working with IBM since 2007 on a programme to refresh its in-store technology and systems over the next three years. This will include the implementation of the Beanstore point-of-sale application from IBM Business Partner PCMS.

Last week, M&S also announced a seven year contract with Fujitsu Services to provide in-store IT support for 600 stores.

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