Marks & Spencer (M&S) has revealed it is planning to open a Simply Food store at Chelmsford’s Broomfield Hospital next month.
Set to sell 700 food lines, the outlet will be the third M&S to be situated at a UK hospital after the retailer opened at St Georges in Tooting, The Royal Berkshire in Reading and St Thomas’, London.
All Simply Food stores at hospitals are opened in conjunction with M&S’s franchise partner SSP, which also runs the company’s food arm establishments in rail stations and airports.
The move to develop a presence in public locations such as hospitals, away from the high street, is a growing trend for retailers in the UK.
Falling sales at stationary retailer WHSmith’s high street operations have prompted the company to focus on its travel outlets at airports and stations, and the business is also looking to increase its presence in office areas in the months ahead.
As of October the firm had opened in eight office-based units, but there are plans in place to add another 40 outlets in these locations over the next five years.
Commenting at the time, Senior Analyst at Verdict Research Matt Piner said: “With the demand for buying books, music and video on the high street becoming increasingly outdated, Smiths has had to look for new avenues for growth.
“By opening stores in airports, hospitals, rail stations and offices it has tapped into a growing demand for convenience and a trend for ‘top up shopping’, as an increasingly busy consumer looks to grab products quickly while on the go.”
M&S sales have been strong in recent years and its core business has not been affected in the same way as WHSmith’s, but the company’s decision to open in hospitals and travel destinations shows it is aware of the importance convenience plays in today’s demanding retail world.