Asda has launched its first store under the Asda Living general merchandise format today, at Crown Wharf Retail Park in Walsall town centre in the west Midlands.

Two further trial stores are under development. The second, measuring 30,000 sq ft, is due to open at Cortonwood Retail Park, Brampton, south Yorkshire, next spring. It will be competing with retailers including Morrisons and Matalan, which have outlets in the same location. The site for the third store has yet to be confirmed.

The Walsall store measures 37,000 sq ft. The ground floor comprises an extensive range of general merchandise, from home entertainment systems to kitchenware. It also has a 13,000 sq ft upper floor dedicated to the George label, plus jewellery and fashion accessories. Shoppers can also take a break from shopping at the Ritazza coffee shop, which forms part of the store.

Analysts said it was too early to decide whether the format would be a success, although they thought it showed promise. Keith Wills from Goldman Sachs said: “Asda Living is a huge opportunity to leverage its food driven footfall into a non-food format.”

However, he said it was unlikely to generate a comparable level of non-food sales to stores with the added footfall driver of food.

The Cortonwood store’s proximity to a Matalan outlet would give Asda stiff competition, said Wills. However, he said it could prove positive as well as negative because it meant there was an existing customer base for the sort of products Asda would be selling.

Wills added that in developing the format, Asda would no doubt have to tweak one or two aspects: “At the moment these outlets seem like they have quite a broad mix, but no doubt that will evolve over time.

“It also needs a more differentiated merchandising strategy than it has for some of its standalone George stores at the moment. The George store in Croydon, for example, seems to have plucked merchandising straight out of an Asda supermarket.”

Paul Smiddy, analyst with Baird said: “With Wal-Mart’s buying power, Asda has a competitive edge in non-food. Footfall for non-food in its hypermarkets is huge. The question is whether a standalone store can generate sufficient footfall.”