SSP, the travel retail arm of Compass bought by investment group EQT and Macquarie Bank in April, has insisted that it is committed to Whistlestop, even though it is replacing a store at Gatwick South Terminal with an M&S Simply Food.

The now closed store will reopen as M&S Simply Food in December but an SSP spokesman said: "This is just a one-off. We are not replacing Whistlestops with M&S Simply Food."

A spokeswoman for M&S Simply Food said the store would be 1,700 sq ft and sell predominantly food and wine. Earlier this year it ran ads to recruit staff. There are plans to open a second store at Gatwick in the near future.