With just three weeks left until Christmas Day, the holidays are already in full swing. Even before Thanksgiving last week, Marks & Spencer (M&S) rolled out its selection of brandy-soaked fruitcakes, individual mince pies and shortbread cookies in festive tins.
The sweets may taste unfamiliar to Pinoys who picture bibingka, puto bumbong and salabat as holiday staples, but the brand’s merchandise manager Catherine Yao said that they actually sell a lot of the fruitcakes during the holiday season.
“Our customers who buy a lot are often expats or those who travel extensively and have developed a liking for them,” Yao said.
The launch of the holiday items last week coincided with the reopening of its store at the SM Mall of Asia. Aside from the brand’s apparel, which occupies the front of the store, there is a cafe at the back with its own entrance.
This is only the second Marks & Spencer Cafe aside from the one in Central Square, BGC. Unlike the first that is a stand-alone store and serves hot meals, the new one only offers baked goods, coffee and tea.
One of the products with more choices this year is their range of Nativity (or Advent) calendars. “They’re gaining popularity with families with small kids because the little ones get to open a small ‘door’ every day leading up to Christmas Day,” said M&S merchandising division manager and head of marketing Lucille Tolentino.
Other products in the brand’s Christmas collection developed by more than 30 experts are “Star Wars” chocolates and Christmas puddings. The latter is made with four varieties of vine fruits (currants, sultanas, raisins and cherries) soaked in brandy. The mixture is then enriched with stout, cider, rum and more brandy. Once steamed, the puddings are injected with cognac for an extra boozy hit.
There are also Christmas tree-shaped tins with a perforated design that can be repurposed as luminarias. After consuming the shortbread cookies contained within, just stick a battery-operated tea light into the base. The tree (P995) is also a musical one. Carefully rotate the base clockwise to play a Christmas carol.