Parfetts Cash & Carry is poised to develop and launch a fascia that would be operated by franchisees of its own stores.

The Landmark Wholesale member purchased its first store in New Mills, outside Stockport, in January and has just received planning permission to refurbish and extend the site.

Once this is done, Parfetts will roll out a name and fascia and will monitor what effect this has on sales. If the trial is successful, the company will consider embarking on a store purchase programme.

These stores would be re-branded and offered to potential franchisees.

Steve Parfett, managing director, said: "The New Mills site came up for purchase from a customer who was retiring and we were aware that Tesco had shown some interest in the site.

"We decided that the opportunity was there for us to purchase it ourselves to retain its independence, and put into practice the store development techniques that we promote to our customers.

"Using our experience in the industry, we have given the store a makeover, though we intend to carry out a full store re-development later this year."

Parfett added: "We are still in the early stages and are yet to develop a name or fascia style. We want to learn the lessons of running our own store before we make the decision to take the concept any further.

"We are not setting up a store to rival our customers in the Stockport area, but rather develop an opportunity and hopefully a franchise that other independent retailers can become involved in and possibly buy into the success and brand that we are building at the New Mills store."

Fascias are becoming ever more important in the convenience store sector.

IGD research published earlier this year showed that the number of non-affiliated c-stores had slumped to fewer than half of the total convenience market for the first time [The Grocer, 6 May, p34].