Costcutter has launched a new scheme, called Costcutter MOT, to help its franchisees ensure their stores fulfil their potential.

Under the new scheme, Costcutter's retail gurus visit the stores and suggest ways in which they can maximise sales.

The scheme has been trialled in three stores, which have shown a 20% to 27% uplift in sales as a result. The initiative will now be made available to the 240 Costcutter members judged as Five Star under the terms of its loyalty scheme.

The improvements made could be as simple as stocking the most appropriate ranges and tinkering with the layout, said sales and development director Jamie Davison.

Meanwhile, Costcutter executive chairman Colin Graves claimed the first three months of 2009 had been the retailer's best ever. Sales were up 9.2% year-on-year, and the overall number of stores increased by about 20.

Costcutter had recruited 57 new stores but about 35 went to the wall mainly because the banks had reduced overdrafts, he said. "The recession does find out poor retailers but we have lost some good retailers because of the banks' behaviour," he said. "However, the figures are excellent because January to March is traditionally the hardest quarter for us."