M&S Simply Food: Overall rating ****
Simply Food provides people who are short on time with time saving meal solutions. There are now 187 Simply Food stores with outlets on high streets, at railway stations, petrol forecourts, airports and motorway service stations.
Although the fashion department at M&S has had its ups and downs, the food offer has remained consistently strong and high quality.
Simply Food feels like a modern, quality food store whose key challenge has been space. With so many food lines squeezed into relatively small units the stores feel cramped, especially at busy times. Simply Food is also a victim of its success in that queues can circle the store, inhibiting browsing and causing frustration for people `on the go’. The number of fridges and the austere décor creates a slightly unwelcoming environment.
Simply Food has an in-store bakery, fresh coffee, newspapers and magazines, over 1,600 speciality food products and select grocery items including ready meals, fresh produce, ‘Food to Go’ branded sandwiches, salads, snacks and a fairly comprehensive wine selection. The ready meal selection is superb, with traditional favourites as well as a `Gastropub’ selection of meals.
One failing is the lack of lunch box items for children and a choice of some lower priced snacks to cater for a family’s tastes. Simply Food is great if you want a halloumi and bean cassoulet or hoisin duck noodles, not so great if you want a small bag of cheese & onion crisps.
You pay more for M&S food than for goods at supermarkets, but consumers know that. For the premium you receive better quality, more adventurous recipes, better packaging and often healthier and fresher ingredients. The extra expense may be justified if you take into account the quality.
1. Test new methods to reduce peak-time queuing.
2. Warmer décor to create a more inviting environment.
3. Use windows better to communicate new products and lines.
4. Introduce more snacks and lunch box items.