BP's eight-store trial with Marks & Spencer Simply Food is delivering increased basket spend and driving footfall just five months after launch.

The average BP Connect basket has risen from £3.10 to £5, an increase of 61%, while footfall is up 25%, says Tom Hunt of specialist convenience consultancy Srcg, which worked with the companies to develop the format. The conversion of fuel purchasers to shoppers is also up by 6% on the trial sites and fuel sales have risen.

However, Matthew Knowles, M&S new stores programme manager, food formats, said the concept was still a trial and some operational issues remained to be overcome. But he added that it had produced a "satisfying level of sales".

"It will take time to build the business as many customers do not expect to see a Simply Food on a forecourt. But we will persevere," he said.

The trial is part of M&S's strategy to take its food offer to the customer. "We had great food in inconvenient sites," explained Knowles. "Some 47% of the population was 10 minutes or more away from an M&S."

Now the plan was to bring food to where people live, work, shop and, through the travel sites, in-between, he said.

The company has opened 148 Simply Foods in five years, of which 44 are franchised travel locations on rail and motorway sites. The 13th motorway site opened last week in Exeter.