Marks & Spencer has opened its first Marks & Spencer Simply Food store at a mainline railway station, in a joint partnership with specialist retail catering company Select Service Partner (SSP), part of Compass Group. The Liverpool Street station store* sees the speciality food retailer opening for over 100 hours of trading for commuter convenience. 

The new store, one of a four store trial at railway stations, follows the earlier confirmation in august of a unique franchise agreement between Marks & Spencer and SSP, although sites had not been identified at that stage.

The 2,250 sq ft Liverpool Street store will stock over 1,000 products including ready meals, sandwich and snacking ranges, bakery products, flowers and wine as well as a range of everyday grocery products.  With extended opening hours from 7am through to 11pm, seven days a week, the store format and product offering has been designed to meet commuters' needs of being able to buy a range of speciality foods as well as select grocery items.  

In addition to the Liverpool Street store, the two other central London locations have been confirmed as Victoria and Marylebone stations.  The fourth store is yet to be confirmed.

The four Marks & Spencer Simply Food stores will be franchised and the speciality food retailer's high standards of store operations will be maintained using Marks & Spencer's bespoke systems, while staff will be recruited and managed by SSP.

Marks & Spencer's franchise of its Simply Food stores has been developed through SSP's specialist knowledge as a foodservice provider in a broad range of retail environments, including railway stations, airports and marine locations.

Justin King, Marks & Spencer's food business unit director, comments:  "These stores present the opportunity to extend the reach of Marks & Spencer's food offering, while having the benefit of SSP's experience of retail catering in railways.  Station concourses are rapidly developing into exciting, fast-paced retail environments in their own right.  Our new store
formats will provide convenience and accessibility to our quality products to both new and existing customers round the clock."

Mike Bailey, chief executive of Compass Group, adds:  "We are delighted to be working with one of the UK's leading food retailers to develop their food offer to commuters at some of the country's busiest railway stations.  The franchise agreement with Marks & Spencer fully complements our portfolio of catering and convenience store offers for the rail sector, while opening a new market for one of the high street's best known names."