Opening week sales at Marks and Spencer's first Simply Food c-store in Surbiton are said to have been buoyant. The new c-store solution was created to tackle concerns raised by customers in an M&S review of its high street portfolio according to Matthew Knowles, project leader for the format. Knowles said: "Customer feedback over the last months has told us we need to be more conveniently located, and that our stores are too clinical and lack warmth." The 2,500 sq ft convenience format with instore bakery, ATM, behind the scenes rotisserie and 1,300 shelf feet of chiller space was launched to extend M&S's reach in the community. Knowles said M&S had followed the example of Tesco Metro when it decided to brand the store Marks and Spencer Simply Food' ­ to communicate distinctions from the main portfolio in customers' minds. A second trial site opening in Twickenham next week will be more geared towards family-sized convenience lines as M&S experiments with the format before nationwide roll out. Knowles said the Surbiton store, close to the mainline station, is geared towards high footfall and small basket size. The reverse is expected in Twickenham, where the store is behind a multi-storey car park. The pilot sites have been set up in modules which can easily be removed if they are unprofitable. The system will allow M&S to tailor the format to local customer patterns. - M&S' food business bucked an overall decline of 2.6% to show growth of 5.9% in the 14 week period to July 7. Clothing, footwear and gifts sales were down 9.1%. {{NEWS }}