UK retailer Marks and Spencer has refuted reports that it is planning to expand its Simply Food banner into Western Europe.

"We are not looking to go to Western Europe with food," a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

The comments follow a piece in the UK newspaper The Times that said the retailer is understood to have enlisted advisers to identify possible locations in Western Europe for its Simply Food outlets.

Speaking at the company's recent investor meeting, chairman Sir Stuart Rose emphasised the importance of international expansion to the retailer's growth platform.

The company currently has 315 stores in 41 countries.

However, the spokesperson said that while M&S views Western Europe as an "area of interest" it does not currently have any plans for the region.