EXCLUSIVE John Wood A £17m revamp of the Stars News Shops business is under way with three new store formats, a new supply deal, an acquisitions drive and new EPoS system. Former United Co-op head of marketing Paul Siviter was brought in as md of the business in November with a brief to revamp the business after it chalked up pre-tax losses in the last two sets of accounts. The company had a turnover for the year to December 29 of £93.8m and is ranked sixth in The Grocer Top 50. The most significant investment is in reformatting the entire 200-store estate, revamping its 70 Stars News CTN stores and introducing two new sub brands, Stars Express, which will be a CTN plus format, and Stars Fresh n' Local for its c-stores. The first pilot Fresh n' Local store has just opened at Penn Street, Wolverhampton, with new green livery, and a Stars Express, with a new blue fascia, will open shortly. The company has also signed a new supply deal with Palmer & Harvey McLane, which will supply the entire estate from June 10, after winning a tendering process against Spar and Nisa. Previously supply was spread across a number of companies and confectionery and tobacco was delivered to stores from the company's own warehouse. Siviter said that in addition to securing the company better terms and a simpler supply chain, the move would also free the company from current geographical constraints that restricted it to a territory stretching from Staffordshire down to Hampshire. A total of £5.5m of the money has been earmarked for acquisitions. The number of stores has dropped from a peak of 224 in 1994 to 200 now, but Siviter said the investment demonstrated the parent company's faith in the business and intention to expand it. Siviter has also won backing from his board to invest in a significant upgrade of the company's EPoS system. The company currently has an elderly EPoS system, which is only installed in 81 stores. Siviter said he expects to sign a deal by mid June for a system that will provide real time data from all 200 stores to head office in Wolverhampton. He said this would provide a wealth of management information and enable the company to better manage its stock control. l For more about Stars News see page 42 {{NEWS }}