Food is set to play a key role in the recovery of Marks and Spencer's ailing business. This week the firm said it was closing all its European stores and selling its US operations in order to concentrate on its UK business. The moves will mean the loss of 5,000 jobs, 650 of which are in the UK. The decision follows a major review of the business by M&S's new md Roger Holmes. Chairman Luc Vandevelde said: "We need to focus fully on the UK, to return to the core values of quality, service, value and innovation. We will sell any assets that threaten to pull the rest of the business down." Food, one of the company's few areas of growth, up 2.5% in the year to March, is said to be an integral part of the company's recovery. Vandevelde said: "With the foot and mouth crisis we have seen food sales grow as people go to the retailer they trust the most. We need to continue to build on the growth." With the recent arrival of Justin King as head of food, the company said it will be looking at a number of ways to improve that growth. One way is to open two new 3,000 sq ft c-stores in Surbiton and Twickenham this year, along with plans for three 10,000 sq ft neighbourhood stores. Roger Holmes said: "Justin will be looking at ways to build growth, one of which will be extending our WH Smith partnership with 25 more stores on top of the existing 17." M&S will also be rolling out 30 more cafe outlets. Holmes added: "We want to be the best by miles at speciality foods. We want to return to our position as setting the standard." - M&S is to sell US supermarket chain Superking. Despite earlier attempts to dispose of the chain failing, M&S is optimistic it will get the right price this time. Vandevelde said: "The company is doing substantially better than it was last year and is looking much more attractive. I have already received a number of excellent uninvited offers." {{NEWS }}