It has taken Paul Mason a little more than six months as chief executive of Somerfield to be able to sit down and reveal to the press his master plan for the "confused business that was trying to be Tesco rather than itself".

As part of the new dream team parachuted into the business after it was acquired in December by a consortium led by Apax Partners, the private equity fund, Mason has some of the most well-established retail talent on tap. They include Tesco commercial director Colin Smith, Debenhams and Peacocks chairman John Lovering, Wal-Mart UK retail MD John Cleland and Safeway distribution director Martin Oakes. "The first thing to do in a situation like that is get the right people on the bus," says Mason, quoting US business guru Jim Collins.

Taking on the job at the £4bn turnover retailer, Mason found a business not focused on its shoppers. Its range was too wide - in some categories broader than in Tesco - availability was poor, it had too many suppliers and prices were uncompetitive.

Mason has turned it into a more focused business. By the end of this year it will have cut its 14,000 ambient lines to 7,000 in an average store and to 2,500 in c-stores.

The multitude of store formats including Essentials and Market Fresh have also been ditched. Mason won't waste money rebranding fascias now, but in the future the only fascia will be Somerfield.

Somerfield's turnaround plan is based on research from 40,000 shoppers. It discovered that 65% of customers and 70% of sales came from over-50 empty nesters, so is tailoring its offer to a growing age group of wealthier shoppers.

However, it won't forget family shoppers. Its core range will be no different than those of the big four, says Mason, but, while Tesco Express may stock just a leading washing-up liquid and its own brand, Somerfield will also stock secondary products that have "fallen from prominence", such as PZ Cussons' Morning Fresh, which "has real resonance with our customers".

The research showed that customers wanted lower prices, improved availability, improved fresh quality and presentation, more own label and a more customer-focused range.

Somerfield's "product family" had not been overhauled since 1989. However, that is changing. Its value range has been rebranded from Makes Sense ("which didn't make sense") to Simply Value, with the number of lines doubling to 200, enabling it to offer entry price points in many new categories. Its healthy sub-brand, previously called Good Intentions, has been rebadged Healthy Choice ("people thought it was our premium range"), while its premium offer, previously So Good, is to be renamed Best Ever.

Next on the to-do list is a total remerchandising of each store. Shelf heights varied along aisles, creating a messy look, and in some cases they were too high, sometimes more than six foot.

Aisles were cluttered, signage and prices were unclear, there were too many gaps and product adjacencies were all over the place, such as tights by fizzy drinks. Eggs were merchandised alongside baking with too little space, while, despite its huge growth, bottled water was only allocated 20% of space in the carbonated aisle.

"We found a business that was not in great shape. It didn't know if it was a supermarket or a discounter." But its mission statement is now clear and straightforward. Mason says his vision is simple: "We want to be Britain's favourite local grocery shop."