United Co-operatives has become the first Co-op society to experiment with offsite store construction.

This week the society built a 4,000 sq ft store in Widnes, Cheshire. The ceiling, walls and floor were manufactured in a factory and taken by road for erection on site - which takes just one day.

United Co-operatives expects internal fitting to take up to four weeks, with the store due to open in late November. It is trying to establish whether offsite construction is a cost effective and workable option.

United Co-operatives general manager, property group, Derek Fogg said: "If manufacturing stores in a factory and installing on site can cut disruption locally and reduce the impact on the environment, as well as allow customers to shop with us more quickly, then it is something we must look at closely.

"We have a strong acquisitions policy which includes developments where offsite manufacturing could be used."