M&S to rebrand 26 stores to dedicated 'Food' fascia

Marks & Spencer plans to rebrand 26 of its existing food stores as Marks & Spencer Food over the next two years.

The fascia change is part of a£150 million food push to bolster M&S's offer, which is big business for the retailer.

Seven Marks & Spencer Food stores are due to open by March - the first will be in Canary Wharf and will also sell the Per Una clothing range.

Food stores are larger than Simply Food outlets, measuring between 8,000 sq ft and 15,000 sq ft (745 sq m and 1,395 sq m), and have a 'small area' dedicated to general merchandise.

Head of food formats Jill Bruce said food is 'very high on the agenda', following the success of Simply Food.

Research showed that more than 50 per cent of customers have to drive more than 10 minutes to get to a Marks & Spencer food store, so the retailer wants to make its offer more convenient and accessible.

Bruce said a key differentiator of the Food stores is that they would be close to car parking facilities.

M&S is assessing edge-of-town areas, retail parks and market towns, as well as town centres as possible locations for Simply Food and Food stores.

RW Baird analyst Paul Smiddy said: 'M&S should be cautious of extrapolating from the success of the food business this summer, because the hot weather has meant that chilled and ready-made foods - its main offering - have been very popular. However, food is clearly a growth area for the retailer.'

In July, M&S reported first quarter food sales ahead by 8.1 per cent and 5.1 per cent like for like.