UK food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer is to announce that it is considering opening a chain of food stores in motorway service stations, according to a newspaper report.

The company, which is hoping to expand its Simply Food convenience store format, is to trial a store on the M1 motorway, reported the Financial Times. The trial store is set to open this summer at a service station near Toddington, Bedfordshire.

The move is part of M&S' business relationship with catering group Compass, with which M&S operates food stores in railway stations. Compass owns Moto, which operates motorway service stations.

Justin King, head of foods for M&S, said the company would tread carefully but he was confident Simply Food would be as popular in service stations as it has been in railway stations.

Following the success of M&S' three trial railway station outlets, the company plans to increase the number of outlets to 50 over the next three years.

The Simply Food format is geared towards providing "meal solutions" to passing customers. Products include ready meals and fresh fruit and vegetables as well as food for immediate consumption such as sandwiches, salads and sushi.