It's Asda's answer to Wal-Mart's neighbourhood convenience format, and it's opened in Bodmin. Exclusive report by Helen Gregory Asda is mirroring Wal-Mart's neighbourhood store concept with the opening of its new supermarket which looks set to change the future of its store development programme. The 28,500 sq ft store in Bodmin is a big departure from the more standard 40,000-45,000 sq ft footprint, as it contains the full Asda range in a much smaller space. It claims this brings cost savings and fits better in space-constrained communities. Group marketing director Richard Baker says: "There are fewer new sites coming on stream and big retailers need to look at smaller formats. This store could have significant opportunities going forward. There are hundreds of locations of this type." The new design will be a model for sites where the catchment or space is restricted and the chain needs to offer a broad range of products. The next store to get the treatment is the new Cambridge store which is due to open in September. The Bodmin store, on the edge of a town with a population of 14,000, has a full Asda range, including a music and video department, home and leisure department and George clothing range. Just over a third is non food ­ there is 18,000 sq ft of food, 5,000 sq ft of clothing and 5,000 sq ft of general merchandise. To squeeze it all in, space saving innovations have been included in the design, including behind the scenes deli, bakery, pizza and meat preparation rather than a serveover counter; products stocked in bays above and below the fixture, cutting down on warehouse space; and the George clothing desk doubling as a customer services desk. Telxons ­ hand-held scanners ­ are used to print shelf-edge price labels, check stock levels, scan for availability of out of stock products in nearby stores, change prices and, ultimately, dramatically cut waiting times by scanning shopping while customers are in the queues. This means fewer stocks held in the storeroom. Bodmin is also the first store to deliver local ranges sourced through the new local ranging team. It believes there is a £160m (2% of sales) opportunity it is missing by not sourcing local products nationally, and the new Bodmin store will stock locally produced Cornish pasties, clotted cream and ice creams. Baker says the chain was offered the land in Cornwall and thought "long and hard" about what to do. "We don't have a terribly strong representation in the south west of England and wanted to find a way of making an Asda store work. "At the same time we were converting our operating systems to Wal-Mart systems giving us more flexibility and efficiency with shelving and merchandising. Wal-Mart is able to tailor ranges around the US but we've never been able to do that. Our stores are more formulaic and inflexible. "You could say that we came to the party late but we had a good large store format and didn't know how we could do a smaller one. We've now proved ourselves wrong." Baker adds: "It's like a Wal-Mart neighbourhood store ­ their local convenience satellite store." He says Asda now aims to focus on marketing opportunities, not on property strategy. "We're developing stores around where communities are, rather than looking at a piece of land to put a standard store." He is keen however, not to re-label the store. "I don't want to segment the brand and give stores subtitles. Shoppers just want to know they are shopping at Asda." {{COVER FEATURE }}