Waitrose has thrown down the gauntlet to Marks & Spencer after unveiling plans to open a new line of convenience-stores in direct competition to its upmarket rival’s Simply Food outlets.

The first new store will open in Nottingham in December, with a 5,800 sq ft premises opposite the John Lewis store on the city’s Trinity Square.

Waitrose plans to open three further c-stores by the spring.

The news comes after Waitrose in May announced plans to introduce a new format for market towns of between 10,000-15,000 sq ft. However, at the time the group denied it intended to roll out a national c-store format.

“We believe you shouldn’t have to compromise on the standard of your shopping experience just because a store is smaller and designed for convenience,” said Waitrose managing director Mark Price.

“We want to revive that old-fashioned personalised service in convenience shops, which consumers value, but within a fresh and contemporary setting. We have always taken pride in the quality and freshness of our offer and this new format will be no exception. There will be a range of service counters and fresh foods currently unparalleled in the convenience sector.”