Located beneath a sweeping arch of the Docklands Light Railway, Budgens' new-look London store is a sign of things to come, not just for Virginia Quay, the developing heart of the capital's Docklands, but for the Budgens business as a whole.

With its sleek glass-fronted exterior and up-to-the-minute store design, the 4,500 sq ft site that opened on 23 November has more ultra-modern concepts than you could shake one of its Omega-3 multigrain French-style sticks at.

Aisles have been banished in favour of individual colour-coded food zones: food for now, food for later and top-up shopping, while low ceilings and specialist energy-efficient lighting work to create a market street feel. The store is also the first Budgens with a fresh smoothie, juice, and coffee bar, perfect for targeting city slickers in need of a quick fruit boost or caffeine injection before boarding the Docklands Light Railway.

And unlike the more traditional Budgens format, the store has a food to go ('good to go') offer directly in front of the entrance.

Nearby is a deli counter offering meat from award-winning family butcher M Newitt & Sons as well as a rotisserie, freshly filled baguettes, baked potatoes, pies, and curry from the well-known restaurant chain Bombay Brasserie.

Food for later has fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, including a halal chicken offer, something that unrelated owners Andy and Hitesh Patel are keen to ­develop in the hot food to go sector, better to support the area's ­Muslim community.

With its primary focus on fresh foods, the top-up shop ­section, located near the back, is much smaller than in a typical Budgens, as is the frozen section, which comprises just one four-door chiller. The store also stocks a range of premium brands such as Duchy Originals, Cranks, Burts and Green & Black's.

Provided with express checkouts, shopping baskets on wheels, and free ATM, the customer is as the forefront of all thinking about the store, and everything has been designed to make the shopping experience smooth and enjoyable.

Add to this speedy dry cleaning, and a shoe repair and alterations service, and it's easy to see why the store, the area's only retail outlet, has become a real mecca for local residents and businesses, which until now have had nowhere convenient to shop. A further 406 new flats are due for completion next year, which is set to bring a real lift not only to the neighbourhood but also to the store's profit margins.

"Our ambition was to create one of the best c-stores in the country, and we have achieved that," says Andy Patel. "The store is a real testament to the benefits of partnership. The MBL team and other retailers have been so helpful in assisting us to design and build the ideal store for our location. Some of the other Budgens stores in the area even offered to lend us some of their staff if we needed extra help at opening."

During the planning process the Patels visited other Budgens stores to discover exactly what worked and what didn't, so that only the very best elements were incorporated.

Bizarrely, perhaps, they decided they didn't need managers. The Patels decided to open the store with all their staff on an level playing field. "That way we could let them prove themselves, and appoint managers at a later date based on merit," says Hitesh. "We are a team, and we are all on the same level. Even I clean the toilets and sweep the floors because if I don't do it, how can I expect my staff to?" he says, adding that he and Andy were particularly selective about the type of people they choose to employ.

"We wanted people with a bit of spark and character about them. You can teach anyone about food and how to cook it but you can't teach them personality. We were looking for out-of-work actors and people like that, as we wanted our staff to interact with the customers, not just serve them. That's what will keep our customers coming back."n