Southern Co-operatives has launched a new-look store in Odiham, Hampshire, following a two-year research project carried out by the society to find out what people wanted from their local shop.

The £250,000 revamped store contains an expanded range of chilled goods, fruit and vegetables and baked items after the study found UK shoppers were increasingly looking to local stores for fresh food.

And in an unusual move the store has removed stationery and greeting cards from its shelves to avoid encroaching on independent retailers in the village.

"As all our stores are at the hearts of their local communities, we tend to increase business for other local retailers," said Phil Ponsonby, general manager for commercial operations at Southern Co-operatives.

"Here, we have gone one step further by increasing our focus on food and removing certain other products, which we hope will support local businesses rather than compete with them."

n The Co-operative Group has told members it has not ruled out launching an online food service in the future.

The revelation came at its half-yearly general meeting earlier this year, details of which have just been released.

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