Marks and Spencer's Simply Food c-store format looks set for major expansion just three weeks after the first trial store opened. Sites for further high street c-stores have already been identified, and the retailer has linked up with the Compass Group, the world's largest foodservice company, to trial the format at a number of railway stations. Matthew Knowles, M&S project leader, small store format, said: "Work is in hand on new high street sites, but nothing has been formalised. We are seeing how things bed out at the test sites, and will decide where to go in the next few weeks." He said the first tranche of additional sites would be in the London area, to bring distribution synergies. The additional Simply Food branded stores could be ready for launch in October. But M&S will open c-stores in conurbations across the UK as the project reaches critical mass. Knowles said sales at the pilot c-stores, which opened last month in Surbiton and Twickenham, continued to exceed target by significant margins. He said: "Sales performance is significantly ahead of expectations, particularly in Twickenham, despite the fact that it is peak holiday season. It could accelerate even further outside the holiday period." Knowles added that M&S would not be tweaking the high-street store format, which includes a bake-off, rotisserie, news section and coffee to go. He said: "All the modules in store are performing over and above the levels required, even as the novelty wears off." M&S has also linked up with Compass Group, which already operates Whistlestop c-store chain, Little Chef and Moto motorway service sites in the UK, to trial the c-store format at four train stations in densely populated areas. The format is likely to exclude coffee and news An M&S team is working with Select Service Partner, Compass's retail and travel arm, on the design and fascia to give it a better fit with train stations. A Compass spokeswoman said the company was interested in the trial because it would be working with a major retail brand in large footprint, high volume sites. Most Whistlestop stores are in London stations and one or two will be converted to Simply Food. She emphasised, however, that Compass was committed to developing the Whistlestop chain, which it bought in March (The Grocer, March 31). New Whistlestop stores have opened at Luton Airport and Victoria Station in London since the takeover. {{NEWS }}