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Marks & Spencer to Ramp Up Food Expansion in U.K. and France

Marks & Spencer Group Plc, Britain’s largest clothing retailer, unveiled plans to open more dedicated food stores in the U.K. and its first in France as it builds on one of the best-performing parts of the business.

About 150 new Simply Food outlets will open in the U.K. over the next three years, adding to the current 427 stores in that format, the retailer said today in a statement. In France, Marks & Spencer will open 10 stores in and around Paris by 2018 under an agreement with Relay, whose 850 kiosks sell books and newspapers at rail stations, airports and hospitals.

Chief Executive Officer Marc Bolland is focusing on the smaller-format Simply Food chain and international stores as avenues for expansion as clothing sales struggle at home. The U.K. plans unveiled today will more than double the number of Simply Food stores the company opens each year, M&S said.

The U.K. stores will open in locations where the retailer is “significantly under represented,” food director Steve Rowe said in the statement. About half of the new outlets will be small-sized stores operated in convenience locations with existing franchise partners such as BP and Moto gas stations, the retailer said. The rest will be owned by M&S.

The first of the French food stores will open in summer 2014, Marks & Spencer said. The outlets will be located at railway stations, metro stations and airports, and there is potential for further expansion in future, the company said.

Marks & Spencer has no immediate plans for an online food service, Bolland and Rowe said at a presentation today.

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