Tesco Extra helpings Theyr’e big spenders at Kingston Park and staff at the purpose-built hypermarket give them every encouragement, as Elaine Watson finds out With almost 100,000 sq ft, 55 tills and its own railway station, Tesco Extra hypermarket in Kingston Park, Newcastle, is the ultimate one stop shop. Alighting from the train at Tesco Extra, 200 yards from the store, the shopper is offered everything from an instore pregnancy testing service to an iMAC computer, all under one roof. Now one year old, the first purpose-built Extra store is Tesco’s biggest and arguably its best store ­ a prototype of the format being rolled out across central and eastern Europe and Asia. In a store of this size, it is important to make the shopping experience fun, says store manager Brian Burns, who encourages every form of instore theatre to liven up the weekly shop. With a giant keyboard, a games console, a raft of CD listening bays and a series of computers set up for customer use, shopping in the entertainment section is designed to be entertaining in itself, he explains. In the run-up to Christmas, children were even kept busy building life size Star Wars characters from Lego while parents shopped. Trained staff are at hand to help customers buying electrical goods while there can be three or four mobile tasting points instore to encourage shoppers to try new products or sample the latest additions to the deli counter. “Whether you’re looking for a PC or thinking about switching to a new type of cheese, you can try before you buy here in every department,” says Burns. Huge fabric overhead signs designate the various “non food worlds”, which differentiate Extra stores from superstores, with the clothing, entertainment and electrical departments proving particularly popular. And lighting, flat packed furniture and white goods could soon arrive instore if trials at the new Extra in Cambridge are successful. Five express checkouts, a sandwich counter, newspaper and cigarette kiosk near the door allow for a quick lunchtime visit. But the design really doesn’t encourage shoppers looking to pick up a few items for an evening meal. The store’s only entrance leads into the non food section so grocery customers are forced to trek through areas of microwaves, DVD players and clothing before they reach the ready meals. Nevertheless, the category managers at Kingston Park have worked hard to help shoppers navigate each department, with products grouped together by occasion. The babycare section has signs such as baby playtime, or out and about, rather than toys or baby carriers, while the women’s clothing department groups outfits according to occasion. Colourful hanging plaques, innovative displays and a striking band of outsized, dummy cereal packs and pet food packets line the top shelves preventing the pile em high, sell em cheap approach from giving the store a cash and carry feel. Likewise, multipacks are in abundance, but tend to be displayed on shelving rather than piled at the end of each aisle. With a pharmacy, optician, perfume counter, photo processing centre and approximately half the selling space devoted to non food, the store boasts a virtually identical range of products and services to the 93,000 sq ft Asda/Wal-Mart supercentre in Patchway, Bristol. Neither store manager would divulge weekly takings, but trading at Kingston Park is “very brisk,” according to Burns. “While we cater for every kind of customer here, we get a lot of big spending families. Let’s just say the average basket spend is very high.” - See Tesco in Europe ­ P40 and P41 {{SPOTLIGHT }}