Budgens is considering holding its own online auctions to source goods after participating in a successful trial with other Nisa members to procure own label soft drinks last month. Trading director Cliff Goodman said: "Online auctions are not only very cost effective as they significantly reduce the time it takes to put out a tender, but they also provide greater professionalism and total transparency to the buying process. "They take a great deal of the mystery away." Separately, Budgens is hoping to secure a further 25 independents to join the Budgens Local franchise scheme over the next 12 months, taking its total up to 49. But Goodman refused to be drawn on longer term plans: "We're not into the numbers game and we'll reject stores if they're in the wrong locations ­ the demographics have to be right. "We only accept those prepared to embrace the total concept of Budgens." Two company owned stores in Sandy and Burton Latimer in Bedfordshire are currently being revamped as part of the trial with Irish stakeholder Musgrave to see if Budgens can boost profits using merchandising techniques and ideas used at Musgraves's SuperValu stores in Ireland (The Grocer, June 16, p8). The stores are being kitted out with more counter services and an enhanced range of fresh, ready to eat food but will retain the Budgens fascia and will be serviced from Budgens' Wellingborough distribution centre. Musgraves' regional manager John Higgins is now based in the UK for the duration of the pilot to direct the new management systems and oversee the reformatting. Budgens will know "reasonably quickly" whether the move has been a success and whether a roll out is advisable, said Goodman. l Successful planogram work on Budgens' licensed offer has driven sales of beers, wines and spirits up 30% over the last 12 months and 45% on premium lager. Organics have shown 42.3% sales growth year-on-year. The range now includes 350 own label and branded lines. {{NEWS }}