Jeremy Symonds, former CEO of Smile Stores, the chain sold to Martin McColl in September last year, has set up a new convenience store business.

The chain, Symonds Forecourts, operates six c- stores on forecourt sites in the south west of England. Three stores are in Bristol, with the remaining three in Gloucester, Bruton in Somerset, and Sherborne in Dorset. Four were previously Smile Stores.

They operate under two fascias - Simply Fresh and Country Market - and employ 70 staff altogether. The Simply Fresh stores are food to go-based, selling hot and cold food and drink, snacks and confectionery.

The Country Market stores are based on a format developed by Smile in May 2006, with an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced products. They have a full convenience offer including fresh foods, grocery and chilled food as well as fresh meats, cheeses and bread from local suppliers.

All stores are supplied by Smile Stores' former parent company T&A Symonds, which was taken over by Palmer & Harvey McLane in August last year.

"There is a real opportunity in the convenience sector for a complete package - a good c-store on a petrol forecourt with a full car valet service," said Symonds. "We found that if you have all this under one roof it is an excellent proposition. Consumers want a wider offer and this is the way forecourt stores will head in the future."

Symonds is also keen to expand the business with more stores. "If any opportunities came up we would certainly be keen to have a look at them," he said. However, he has no plans to grow beyond the south west of England, he added.

Symonds said he had set up the company because he was not ready to leave the convenience sector. "I am still very much in touch with the industry and felt we could go forward with an exciting proposition," he said. "We are excited about the new business."