Marks and Spencer has emphasised its commitment to the convenience market with news it will open another 200 Simply Food shops over the next few years.
The retailer has three different types of food-only stores in the UK:
• 130 M&S Food Halls of about 9,000 sq ft
• 106 company-owned Simply Food outlets of about 4,000 sq ft
• 356 franchise-owned Simply Food shops of about 1,000-2,000 sq ft.
A spokesman said the company was focusing on speciality, quality and health and convenience – “convenient in location and convenient in our products. M&S was “very strong on top-up shopping, shopping for tonight”, he added.
Steve Rowe, chief executive, said at the retailer’s half-year results on Tuesday that the company would continue to grow its food business.
“We have now completed a forensic review of our estate both in the UK and in our international markets,” he said.
It would transform its UK estate over the next five years with about 60 fewer clothing & home stores, while continuing to increase the number of its Simply Food stores.
“In the future, we will have more inspiring stores in places where customers want to shop that complement our growing digital offer.”
Rowe said the food business continued to outperform the market with market share up 20 basis points (bps) in the most recent 12-week period ended October 9, Kantar World Panel data showed. “We also improved availability,” he said.
“Every year around 25% of our food catalogue is comprised of new or improved products. During the period we relaunched our Cook range and introduced more options to tap into the consumer trend for healthy but convenient meals. We also continued to expand our offer of gluten and lactose-free products as we meet our customers’ demands for specialist dietary ranges.”
The performance of new Simply Food stores was ahead of expectations and stores opened in the past year had exceeded sales forecasts by 17%, Rowe said.
Rowe said the 200 new Simply Food stores would open by the end of 2018/19. A five-year programme to improve the estate included plans to close 30 full-line stores, and downsizing or replacing about 45 other full-line stores to Simply Foods.