Marks and Spencer and Ocado could be exploring options for supermarket grocery delivery

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M&S boss Steve Rowe revealed the company was looking at online delivery options (Source: Getty)

Marks and Spencer is exploring a tie-up with delivery company Ocado in what would be a long-delayed move into online grocery shopping, according to reports.

Talks between the two firms will start in the next few weeks, according to anonymous sources spoken to by the Sunday Telegraph.

M&S's chief executive Steve Rowe said last week a team from the supermarket was looking into options for a soft trial of food delivery to be started in the autumn.

Read more: It's finally happening: M&S to trial an online food delivery service

Rowe said there were "unanswered questions" about the model M&S would pursue as more and more customers move towards online shopping.

The retail stalwart currently does not offer online food shopping outside of bulk orders of party food, but a deal with Ocado would allow M&S to quickly launch at scale.

It would also represent a big move for Ocado, which counts Morrisons and Waitrose among its supermarket partners.

The delivery firm is currently restricted by contract from teaming up with Morrisons' direct rivals, including the other biggest supermarkets, Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco, as well as discounters Aldi and Lidl, but it would be free to pursue a deal with M&S, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Read more: Ocado delivers steady sales growth but eyes currency movements

M&S's business model is slightly different to the other major supermarkets, with a narrower selection of products and a higher reliance on its own-brand food.

Ocado has enjoyed solid growth in recent months with full-year profits beating analyst expectations in January despite rising labour costs and smaller basket sizes for orders.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer declined to comment on the reports. Ocado could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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