Marks & Spencer is to open another 150 Simply Food stores in the UK as it signs a new franchise partner to open the stores in France.
Simply Food stores account for 34% of M&S’s total food sales and there are 427 branches in the UK, but almost half of consumers are more than 10 minutes’ drive away from a store.
The retailer sees scope to extend its food market share in places where it is below average by opening more Simply Food branches. In Norwich, for instance, M&S’s food market share is less than 2% compared with its 3.9% average.
About half of the new Simply Food shops will be franchised, typically measuring about 2,000 sq ft and in places such as railway stations and airports.
The rest will be company-owned, measuring between 10,000 sq ft and 15,000 sq ft, on high streets and retail parks.
M&S executive director of food Steve Rowe said: “This franchise and owned expansion offers us an opportunity to grow our customer base and business, building on the progress we have already made.”
In France M&S has teamed up with partner Relay, which will open 10 M&S food stores in and around Paris by 2018. The first will open next summer.