Marks & Spencer has called a halt to its pilot of a Simply Food franchise at Jonathan James’ site in Ely, Cambridgeshire. BP announced it had picked Witchford Road Service Station, of James Graven & Son, for the trial at its Dealer Convention in Oman in November.

But Jonathan, who runs the site with his wife Rebecca, said last month the pilot had been forced to stop due to "fundamental technical problems" which at the time could not be resolved. The former Forecourt Trader of the Year winner added: "I’m hoping it’s a pause rather than a full stop - we hope to have another go in the future."

A BP spokeswoman said: "All parties have worked hard to determine how best to introduce the offer and to enable its smooth operation. Despite this, it has not been possible to continue, and so with the full co-operation of Jonathan and Rebecca, BP and M&S, the development of the pilot has been stopped. We would like to thank Jonathan and Rebecca for their time and expertise to date."

The spokeswoman said that BP was not currently looking for any other independent dealers to trial the M&S Simply Food franchise. She added: "We haven’t given up on the idea but this pilot site hasn’t worked."

However, the company will "continue to explore new ways of exploiting the M&S Simply Food format as part of their franchise agreement."