Property News - M&S creates rail link for Simply Food expansion

Marks & Spencer is stepping up its franchising activities to drive the growth of its Simply Food format at major rail stations across the UK.

It plans to open another 40 railway station branches over the next three years.

Following a successful trial at Liverpool Street, Victoria and Marylebone stations in central London, M&S plans to build on its relationship with Select Service Partners, part of the Compass Group, to drive its Simply Food opening plans.

The first new stores to open under the agreement will be at Euston next month and Brighton in January.

The London trials proved that main railway termini are fertile ground for Simply Food, with an offer targeted at commuters wanting prepared food to eat at home that evening.

The UK's top 14 railway stations are used by 650 million passengers a year and passenger numbers are growing. Marks & Spencer food director Justin King said: 'The Simply Food format was created to take our quality food offering to innovative and more convenient locations for our customers. Many major railway stations are now attractive city centre shopping destinations for commuters.'

Chairman Luc Vandevelde has set M&S a target of opening 150 Simply Food stores in the next three years, and the stations programme will take it a substantial way towards that. But at the same time, an aggressive acquisitions programme is under way for standalone stores in suburban and city centre locations.