Restaurant offer on the menu for next year
Marks & Spencer is to open an in-store, full service restaurant next spring as the retailer ups its handle on the UK food market.

The restaurant format will be trialled at M&S's Newcastle store before being rolled out if successful. The launch follows the retailer's range of in-store food initiatives unveiled last month as the company reported interim results.

In the present M&S hot food effort, the retailer is going after a slice of the high street coffee shop market, as well as ethical consumers.

Key London stores are already hosting the retailer's Hot Food to Go offer, which includes fresh tea and coffee, as well as breakfasts of porridge and hot croissants.

Starbucks and Prêt À Manger dominate the coffee shop market, which M&S is targeting by capitalising on its popular food offer.

Only Fair Trade drinks are on sale and customers are served hot breakfast and lunch, which including soup, noodles, risotto and chunky chips, within three minutes.

Further initiatives include in-store delis with counter seating and menu options such as a glass of chardonnay and a tartin for lunch. This, together with a new hand-finished patisserie range at M&S's bakery, 'gives the customer lots of options', said a M&S spokeswoman. 'We were the first retailer to introduce sandwiches and cold food years ago, so hot food is the next step.'

If Hot Food to Go is successful in London, it could be rolled out to other locations across the UK next year. The other in-store initiatives are already in place at stores in Newcastle, Milton Keynes and a host of London outlets, with a view to expansion in the new year.