Spar UK has abandoned plans to roll out its six new store formats throughout its estate, instead opting for a strategy of developing its retail offer on an ongoing and more flexible basis.

The symbol group announced earlier this year that its trials of the six new formats, which it had designed to fit changing shopper needs, were expected to be rolled out in 2007.

But this, said Spar retail director Richard Bennett, was no longer the plan. He said the group would now concentrate on continually trialling new schemes and improving the offer in ways that were easier to replicate for individual independents.

Spar's Stores of the Future programme will kick off in April next year.

"We are looking at pushing the boundaries," said Bennett. "The new programme will be focused on getting the right product in the right place. Rather than getting a new format and taking three or four years to roll it out fully, we will be able to take the best schemes and quickly develop them for our independents."

By April Spar hopes to have identified seven more flagship stores where it will continue the development of store concepts covering each of the six formats identified this year - Urban Lifestyle, Neighbourhood Affluent, Community Supermarket, In Transit, Neighbourhood Value and Daily Needs. One will be based on the larger Eurospar format, successful in Northern Ireland.

Each year Spar will also choose seven more stores in which to trial fresh ideas.

Bennett revealed Spar would be looking to introduce some of the more innovative schemes currently being developed by Irish Spar operator BWG in some of its flagship Dublin stores, such as the Treehouse smoothie bar concept.

The group is set to launch a new economy range of own-label lines next month. Spar Value will initially consist of 13 lines covering food, drink and household items. Prices will start from 25p.