Bolland at the opening of the new M&S store in Paris

Bolland at the opening of the new M&S store in Paris

Marks and Spencer plans to open its first Simply Food convenience outlet in Paris within 18 months, the UK retailer's chief executive said today (24 November) as the company marked its return to the French capital.

Speaking after M&S opened its new outlet on the Champs-Élysées - its first store in Paris since it quit France a decade ago - chief executive Marc Bolland outlined the company's plans for its Simply Food chain.

"We are in discussions on a couple of locations. What we want with Simply Food is to take a couple of very good locations, instead of distributing it very widely. We are positive within between six and 18 months that we can announce a couple of interesting locations," Bolland told just-food.

The M&S chief was confident that the Simply Food format could resonate with consumers in a city where Casino and Carrefour take up around 80% of convenience sales.

Bolland said the French convenience channel was not as "developed" as in the UK and insisted M&S's experience with its Simply Food stores in London would stand the business in good stead. "The level of innovation we bring out in the UK will be very competitive in this market," he said.

The retailer's new 1,400 sq me store on the Champs-Élysées centres on fashion but it has a small food range, including sandwiches, salads and "classical" UK products like biscuits and scones, Bolland said. "Food is very small because nobody does a main food shop at the Champs-Élysées," he said.

However, a fuller food range will be sold at the three new full-line stores that M&S has lined up. The retailer plans to open a store in So Ouest, a shopping centre in the Paris suburbs next autumn; at Beaugrenelle, a new shopping mall near the Eiffel Tower, in spring 2013, and at Aeroville, a mall set to openin north-east Paris at the end of 2013.

John Dixon, executive director for M&S's food business, said the food sold at the Champs-Élysées store had been manufactured by the retailer's existing suppliers. However, he indicated that the newer, laerger stores could need more local suppliers for its fuller range of fresh food.