Compass to trial M&S in Moto shops

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The Independent Online

Compass, the world's biggest catering group, is to turn its motorway service stations into upmarket mini supermarkets in an attempt to persuade customers to spend far more money in its 47 Moto outlets.

Compass, the world's biggest catering group, is to turn its motorway service stations into upmarket mini supermarkets in an attempt to persuade customers to spend far more money in its 47 Moto outlets.

The company said yesterday it would trial M&S Simply Food outlets, which it owns the franchise for, in two Motos before rolling the strategy out in the rest of the country.

The move follows a climb-down by the Government from its belief that service stations should not offer too many services because motorways would become clogged with shoppers.

The Government has lifted most restrictions as it now believes commuters will drop into a Moto or similar outlet on their way to destinations.

Mike Bailey, the chief executive of Compass, said experience from putting M&S Simply Food stores into railway stations suggested a similar plan for Moto was very encouraging. "We converted three railway station stores from regular convenience shops to M&S Simply Food brand and sales have rocketed from £1.5m a year to £7m overnight. That's a 400 per cent increase. I was absolutely staggered," Mr Bailey said.

Compass is also preparing to expand the reach of Moto abroad with plans to open three in Italy next year. It has been eyeing the Italian market for some time and is in the process of acquiring Onama, a large food services group, in the country.

Compass announced a 12 per cent rise in pre-tax profit before exceptional items to £654m in the year to September. It unveiled a 25 per cent increase in its total dividend to 7.1p.

Compass is in the final stages of exclusive talks with venture capitalist Permira over the sale of its Travelodge and Little Chef chains, put up for auction this year for more than £750m.

Compass shares slipped 2.25p to 313.75p.

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