Address: Brighton Rd, Redhill
Opening hours: 24/7
Price at the pump: Unleaded 122.9p Diesel 123.9p
Small and compact, and sharing floorspace with a Wild Bean Cafe, this M&S and BP hybrid forecourt still delivers in typical M&S style. So ready meals are everywhere, staring you in the face on entry and carrying on around the bank of chillers, which are packed with prepared food to make life convenient.
This was the most expensive basket of the bunch, to no great surprise. M&S didn’t sell Blossom Hill, although its own-brand rosé was still a penny cheaper than the price Morrisons charged for Blossom Hill.
It also didn’t sell Warburtons bread, so a pricier own-label bread was purchased instead. It only sold PG Tips in a box of 80 and it only sold large bags of Walkers. But shopping in M&S does come at a premium.
The own-label spaghetti cost £1.60 - over twice the price of the cheapest (Tesco only charged 65p). It charged a scorching £1.69 for a 500ml bottle of coke, a whopping £5.39 for the Ben & Jerry’s, and its lasagne was the most expensive of the lot.
A large M&S Food Hall would have charged £20.04 for a similar basket, over £4 cheaper.
There is also a more limited selection of ambient staples like pasta, a large selection of wines, a chilled section selling steaks, sausages and chicken, a bakery, sandwiches, and a typically large forecourt range of crisps and snacks.
M&S pushes own label hard, so some brands were unavailable. The Warburtons and Blossom Hill were subbed for an own-label white loaf and M&S own-label rosé wine, while they only had 80 tea bags and a grab bag of Walkers, all of which bumped up the total.
The store was well staffed, with two people behind the tills and two people on the shop floor replenishing shelves during the afternoon lull. Service didn’t come with a smile exactly, but it was polite and brisk, and my shopping was packed for me.
Food to go 3/5
A Wild Bean Cafe at this BP forecourt stymied any big ambitions M&S might have for food to go at this location at least, but everyone knows M&S’s sandwich game is strong.
And for anyone perplexed by what to choose from its wide array of sandwiches, sushi and salads, this cute little selection pack ticks lots of boxes. Ham and Cheese, Egg and Cress, Prawn & Mayo and Chicken Salad combine to turn an everyday sandwich lunch into a little picnic. Quality ingredients (plump prawns, good ham, fresh salad, tender chicken) make for four tasty sandwich triangles. I wonder why more retailers don’t offer a similar selection pack.
At £4.75, M&S is by far the most expensive meal deal promotion from the six stores visited but you do (just about) get what you pay for here.