Exclusive Marks and Spencer plans to open at least 40 Simply Food stores on railway station concourses this year as it looks to accelerate the rollout of its new c-store format. The chain is steaming into railway stations in partnership with SSP, part of foodservice giant Compass which also owns the Whistlestop c-store chain. And The Grocer understands the two partners have already identified the 40 sites they want to develop. More stations could be added to that list. M&S is preparing to open a store on Brighton station which will be the fourth Simply Food outlet on railway concourses ­ and the first outside London. A spokeswoman said that trade continued to be brisk at its new stores on Victoria, Marylebone and Liverpool Street stations. These stores were formerly Whistlestop outlets which have been converted by M&S. However, Compass this week insisted there were no plans to convert any more Whistlestop stores ­ despite the aggressive plans being developed with M&S. The M&S spokeswoman said sales at the company's high street Simply Food stores in Surbiton and Twickenham, south-west London, continued to exceed expectations. M&S has now identified a further six high street locations for Simply Food. These are on top of the 20 sites that chairman Luc Vandevelde said had been located when he announced M&S' interim results last November. At the time he said: "We are very excited about the potential of the format." The first of these stores will be opened in London and the south-east, to maximise distribution synergies, before the concept is launched in conurbations across the UK. Simply Food was introduced on the high street last July. Soon after, M&S revealed it was tying up with Compass to test the concept by opening four stores on stations. {{NEWS }}