WH Smith Darlington M&S Food concession rendering

Source: WH Smith

How the Darlington M&S concession will look, according to WH Smith

M&S is aiming to boost its high street presence amid branch closures with the opening of Simply Food concessions in WH Smith stores.

Two are to open in September, in Darlington and Sutton Coldfield WH Smith stores, offering M&S food to go and food for tonight, including ready meals.

It follows the arrival in June of a smaller range of M&S food to go, including sandwiches, in WH Smiths in Bedford and Bournemouth.

All four of the WH Smith branches are in areas where an M&S has closed as part of a five-year transformation programme announced in November 2017.

WH Smith already operates 12 M&S Simply Food stores and two food-to-go trials in UK hospitals, in a franchise partnership struck between the two in 2012. However, M&S ranges have not previously been offered in WH Smith high street branches.

“As part of our transformation plan we’re reshaping our store estate to meet the changing needs of our customers,” said an M&S spokeswoman. “With our long-standing franchise partner, WH Smith, we see an exciting opportunity to serve customers on high streets where we don’t have a store.

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“This is a small trial, focused on making our food-to-go offering accessible for busy customers, and we’ll be listening carefully to customer feedback.”

Commenting on the Darlington store, in the town’s Cornmill Shopping Centre, a WH Smith spokeswoman said: “For the lunchtime rush, M&S sandwiches, salads, pasta pots and deli items will be available, as well as sweet treats and everyone’s favourite Percy Pig sweets.

“For tonight, the new offer also includes a selection of M&S’s convenient prepared meals for customers to enjoy at home, as well as a beautiful selection of fresh flowers.”

The M&S on Darlington’s Northgate closed in August last year.

“The convenient grab-and-go range launching in WH Smith will bring a tailored M&S Food offer back to the centre of town in a location with great access to the main bus stops,” said the WH Smith spokeswoman.