Marks and Spencer has recently stepped up the pace of its Simply Food expansion with the acquisition of 28 Iceland stores. CACI’s analysis reveals the cherry-picking of sites from Iceland’s portfolio has been well thought-through. While the acquisition moves Simply Food into some unchartered territory, M&S has generally found sites that display a strong mix of the key drivers for success of the Simply Food offer.
CACI has ranked all of the sites on what it perceives to be the key success criteria for a premium convenience-based offer, namely:
n Strong footfall from high street shoppers
n High penetration of affluent shoppers
n Strong comparable premium retailer offering
n Proximity to public transport
n Large local resident population
n Large work-based grocery expenditure
While few sites tick all of the boxes to make a perfect store and other local factors will always play a part in their ultimate performance, these acquisitions generally meet a number of the key criteria to make them a success.
Given its location in Simply Food’s London heartland, it is no surprise the Palmers Green site, north London has the greatest potential, with the most people living on its doorstep and the second-largest number of target affluent shoppers. Add the nearby commuter station and these factors outweigh the relative lack of upmarket high street retail or workers nearby.
The second site on the list is located in the heart of Torquay. It doesn’t perform as well on demographics, which are somewhat older and Middle Britain, but the high footfall from the town centre’s workers and shoppers should help to make this store a success.
Northallerton is perhaps a surprising choice at number three. It seems to lie outside the Simply Food mould, particularly as the store is not conveniently located close to the mainline station. However, the choice of this affluent North Yorkshire market town is well conceived. The site has a reasonably strong high street offer, with a good mix of complementary retailers. The high density of Wealthy Achieving Acorn groups should also work well.
Other stores of note are the Edinburgh store in the affluent Morningside area of the city, which has the best demographic make-up of all of the stores acquired. The site in Bicester offers customers in this affluent town something of an alternative to the raft of Tesco stores that dominate the local retail market. Coleraine looks to be a good acquisition in Northern Ireland, as Simply Food steps out of Belfast.
The lowest ranking sites, according to CACI, are Tewkesbury, Biggin Hill and Newtownards. M&S is taking something of a gamble in these two locations, relying on the upmarket demographics to offset the small market.
CACI associate director Paul Langston says: “Overall this looks like an excellent acquisition. Simply Food has picked some great sites and only four of them look like they could do with a little further investigation.”

How the sites rate
1 Palmers Green
2 Torquay
3 Northallerton
4 Trowbridge
4 Woodford South
6 Cirencester
6 Market Harborough
6 Edinburgh - Morningside
9 Durham
10 Ormskirk
11 Coleraine
12 Sudbury
12 Reading - Caversham
14 Stockport - Hazel Grove
15 Braintree
16 Hertford
17 Bicester
18 Honiton
19 St Neots
20 Cleveleys
21 Christchurch
22 Devizes
22 Morpeth
24 Leicester - Oadby
25 Belfast - Upper
Newtownards Road
26 Biggin Hill
27 Tewkesbury
28 Newtownards