// M&S makes first venture capital investment in two decades
// The retailer invested over £20m to technology fund True
Marks & Spencer has announced its first venture capital investment in 20 years as it seeks to boost its digital capabilities.
The retailer has invested more than £20 million to technology fund True, which manages private equity-style vehicles.
M&S has worked with True since 2018 but this marks the first time it has made a significant financial commitment.
“The partnership had already led to some fruitful commercial engagements such as bringing childrenswear brand Frugi on to the retailer’s website,” M&S chief financial officer, Eoin Tonge said.
“But we’re starting to think about the next growth sectors for us, things that could be relevant in five years or more.”
Tonge added that while the company’s main objective was to secure early access to new technology and thinking, it also expected to make a financial return on its commitment.
True takes equity stakes in digital-first businesses that are capitalising on shifts in consumer behaviour, such as the growth of ecommerce or the rising awareness of sustainability.
It has about £600 million under management, with investments including workplace wellness app Unmind, staff rostering system Rotaready and online furniture retailer Cotswold.
Its latest fund will seek to raise about £50 million with M&S acting as the lead investor.
Since the installation of a new management team led by M&S chair Archie Norman, the business has invested heavily in technology and has used the pandemic to accelerate that process.