Staff working on deli counters at Andrew Thornton’s Budgens stores are preparing more products for the shelves after cheese sales soared when they were moved out from behind the counter.

Thornton said that, unlike in his native Ireland, consumers had been “brainwashed” to choose pre-packed products.

When deli staff at his two London stores wrapped cheeses and put them on the shelf two years ago, sales soared 300%, Thornton said.

As a result, packed deli meats, olives, antipasto and fresh meat prepared for home cooking are to be rolled out next week.

Some customers were put off by having to queue for the deli and were too polite to ask for a smaller slice, Thornton said. “People are afraid that if they ask for a piece of cheese it will come to £5 when they only wanted to spend £2.”