The audit was the first plank of plans to improve standards and consistency

More than 580 Costcutter Supermarket Group stores have passed an audit that sought to establish compliance with new standards jointly created with the Co-op.

An independent auditor confirmed 97% compliance among those stocking Co-op own brand products with eight core standards.

Costcutter retailers have access to more than 800 Co-op products but the range is poised to more than double.

A spokeswoman said the standards encapsulated “everything from what is displayed and how it’s displayed through to customer complaints and recalls”.

Other criteria include price, temperature control, date codes, product labelling, saleability and training to ensure staff understand how to respond to queries about Co-op membership.

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Costcutter said the audit was the first plank of plans to improve store standards and consistency across the group.

More than 600 retailers worked with their business development managers (BDM) to ensure they complied with the eight standards.

Mock audits by the BDM team highlighted any areas that needed work before the independent auditor undertook a spot check.

Sean Russell, Costcutter’s director of marketing, said the audits proved the perfect platform to drive improved standards across every aspect of the stores.

This ensured greater uniformity for shoppers when they visited any Costcutter store.

“This is the great start we were expecting and forms part of our strategy for the future. The standards our retailers have been inspected on ensure consistency of quality and presentation,” he explained.

By driving up store standards, the whole group benefited because it was able to reliably deliver a pleasant experience in store, driving footfall and frequency of visit for all its retailers, Russell said.

Retailers that stock Co-op own brand products will continue to undergo independent spot checks up to twice a year.