Marks & Spencer (M&S) has said it plans to open 150 Simply Food stores in the UK over the next three years.

Doubling the present rate of openings, the 427 current stores, of which 249 are franchises, account for 34% of M&S food sales. The expansion will create over 5,000 new retail jobs.

Each Simply Food store contains a bakery, an M&S Café and around 6,000 food and drink lines.

New stores will be opened in the next 12 months in Evesham, Woodley in Reading, Leigh in Greater Manchester, Cramlington in Northumberland, Waterlooville in Hampshire, Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire and Gosforth.

Around half of the new stores will be close to 2,000 square feet and operated with one of M&S’ existing key franchise partners in motorway service areas, train stations, hospitals, petrol station forecourts and airports.

The business currently has Simply Food partnerships with BP, SSP and Moto, which accounts for 249 stores across the UK.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, M&S, said: “Our Food business has gone from strength to strength under our plans to transform M&S. We’ve delivered 15 quarters of like-for-like growth in the UK and have opened Food stores in cities such as Amsterdam and Paris. We’re delighted to be partnering with Relay France to drive our international ambition even further.”

Steve Rowe, executive director of food, added: “Today, we are confirming plans to extend our unique Food offer to even more UK customers by opening around 150 new Simply Food stores in areas where we are currently significantly under-represented. This franchise and owned expansion offers us an opportunity to continue to grow our customer base and business, building on the progress we have already made.”

The first UK M&S Simply Food stores were opened at Surbiton and Twickenham in July 2001.