Marks & Spencer has signed a four-year managed service contract with Logicalis covering networks and infrastructure development plus IT innovation.

The deal will see Logicalis’ managed service centre and onsite teams providing engineering, design and development support for M&S’s wired and wireless network infrastructure, which spans 591 UK stores and regional offices.

The IT services firm is also tasked with improving the efficiency and agility of the retailer’s IT network – and with helping to deploy “innovative” ICT services to try to maintain M&S’s competitiveness in the market.

Logicalis will “optimise the performance of M&S’s existing ICT estate”, it said, as well as supporting the retailer’s IT team in delivering critical IT-driven business processes like transaction services and point-of-sale.

During the course of the contract, Marks & Spencer will open a number of stores, all of which will be migrated onto the network monitoring service.

Damone Quigley, head of infrastructure and application services for Marks & Spencer, said the company had chosen Logicalis because it wanted “a partner with the ability to align IT performance to the needs of the business [and] demonstrate innovation in service delivery.”

The infrastructure and development deal is the second major IT contract signed by M&S in three months. In August it agreed a three-year systems integration contract with IBM to refresh its in-store technology and systems, including the implementation of the Beanstore point-of-sale application from software supplier PCMS.

M&S is in the midst of a technology refresh programme which will see it spend around £500m over three years on its supply chain and supporting IT systems.

Back in May its chief executive Stuart Rose said the retailer would be spending £150m this year revamping its IT systems and said similar levels of spending were also slated for 2008 and 2009.

The retailer is already a world pioneer in the use of radio frequency identification tags on individual in-store items, being the largest retail user of such tagging in the world.