Sainsbury's Local has pulled into the filling station. Anne Bruce sees what's on offer and compares it to Tesco's Express Sainsbury has joined its multiple rivals on the forecourts with the unveiling of its first collaboration with Shell in Roehampton, London. With Tesco in partnership with Esso, Safeway with BP and Somerfield with Elf, Sainsbury must now play catch-up. Arch rival Tesco already has 27 of its forecourt Express stores up and running, and plans to open 150 more over the next three years. SThe new Local, just off an arterial route for central London and the coast, is the first of six stores that Sainsbury plans to open on Shell forecourts in the M25 commuter belt in the next year. The convenience stores will all carry the Local fascia, while the petrol business is run by Shell. A further roll out of the forecourt Local format could be announced next Summer following a review. The Roehampton store targets top-up and impulse shoppers. Next to a school, close to Roehampton University and St Mary's Hospital, and with a sizeable housing estate opposite, the store is well situated for passing trade and local shoppers looking to do a secondary shop. Down the road Tesco's Express filling station and store opened in Wimbledon last February. It is on a busy road next to South Wimbledon Tube station and is trading above expectations says the manager. Both Express and Local aim to distance themselves from the traditional forecourt offer associated with wilting flowers and charcoal. Each avoids cluttering the store front with goods. Local choice and value manager Belinda Hill says: "We wanted to keep the look clean, to differentiate it as a food store not a kiosk." Wimbledon Express store manager Neil Prodrick agrees: "We used to keep flowers and papers outside, but we try to keep everything inside the store now, otherwise people think they are visiting a kiosk." The two stores also aim to tempt foot as well as car customers. As well as parking for up to 15 cars at both stores, the Local has a customer walkway painted on the forecourt to guide pedestrians safely into the store. The new Local is run by the employees of the former Shell store. It will become something of a model store as new innovations in retailing are trialled for adoption in both the forecourt and standard Locals. First of the new ideas is a mobile till powered by a radio frequency laser system that can be wheeled on to the sales floor in rush periods. A basket-only store, the Local may experiment with mini-trolleys ­ baskets on wheels ­ if customers demand them, says Hill. None of the Locals has trolleys in order to avoid congestion. But Express customers now have large trolleys as many choose to do a substantial shop ­ to the surprise of management. {{SPOTLIGHT }}