The move follows Somerfield’s acquisition of wholesaler Aberness, which has the Mace licence for Scotland.
Dubbed Somerfield at Mace, the hybrid format will be trialled at one company-owned store and one independent in the autumn, said Somerfield head of convenience David Cheyne. Speaking at the opening of the second Somerfield Essentials franchise store at Palmers Green, north London, Cheyne said more details of the new format would be unveiled soon.
He added: “We will be offering three packages to independents in Scotland: Mace, Somerfield at Mace and Somerfield Essentials. It all depends on location, store size and the amount of money people have to invest.”
With the incursion of the multiples into the high streets and suburbs, independent retailers were increasingly looking for the cachet of a national brand, said Somerfield business director, franchise recruitment, Norman Kears. “We have had almost 200 inquiries about the franchise scheme. A wider roll-out will probably start in mid-September.”
Franchisees get a free till system, PoS, external graphics, marketing material and the Essentials fascia in return for 5% of net retail sales excluding VAT and lottery.
To ensure discipline, they are only paid overriders if they buy 95% of their stock from Somerfield, said Kears. Likewise, they can only order goods allocated to their stores by head office as ranges are tightly controlled by planograms.
Romesh Perera, who owns the 2,850 sq ft Palmers Green Somerfield Essentials store, said it could probably turn over £40,000 a week based on the first few hours of trading.
The store has wall-to-wall chillers, a strong fresh fruit and veg range, and fresh bread and pastries from Cuisine de France.