Sales have soared by 25% at Musgrave GB’s first ‘new concept’ Budgens store since it was launched on 2 October, following a product range overhaul and 14-week refurbishment.

Musgrave transformed the company-owned Budgens in Broadstone, Dorset, so it could focus on bringing “posh food to the masses”, following the company’s review of its GB business.

“The sales uplift is beyond what we were expecting,” said Musgrave GB managing director Peter Ridler. “Leading with fresh produce instore and the emphasis on authentic, artisan products has made a real impact.”

The ‘real impact’ is a 65% increase in fresh meat and fish sales and a 60% increase in fresh fruit and vegetable sales at the so-called ‘lab store’.

The sales uplift should “get people on board” and “should speak” to any Budgens retailers cynical about a lab store working elsewhere, said Ridler.

“What I’d also say to Budgens retailers is that we had an objective here - to own a certain place in the high street - to be interesting and exciting. We decided on a look and mix of product that would make a real improvement to this store and it worked.”

Musgrave achieved the new product mix by adding 400 new skus to the store across ambient and fresh, with the Charlie Bighams range of ready meals being particularly popular.

The new store has also secured 100 products from 20 local suppliers, with Game Larder Company’s rabbit available in stores a day after being caught.

“Lots of shoppers say the new ranges mean they come to us instead of Waitrose now,” said store manager Nigel Hughes. “Customers see us as a destination shop since the refurbishment.”

Musgrave will launch the next company-owned ‘lab stores’ in Crouch End, North London, and Byfleet, Surrey, in the first quarter of 2015. The first retailer-owned store to become a lab store is set to open in May next year.