From left: Jassy Dhinsa, Martyn Parkinson, Steve Dhinsa

Symbol group Premier has set out its stall to compete in the increasingly important battleground for small convenience stores.

The Booker-owned fascia showcased its latest small store format this week in Wheatley Hill, near Durham. The store, which is just under 600 sq ft, has seen weekly sales jump from £8,000 to £20,000 since undergoing the revamp.

Owned by Jassy and Steve Dhinsa, the store was a basic newsagent format that had been in the Dhinsa family for 30 years. The new format has put a major focus on fresh and chilled products, as well as food to go, vaping and premium spirits. It also includes a Post Office.

As well as the dramatic sales increase, the profit margin has increased from 18% to 25% – with Premier aiming to bring this figure up further to around 30%.

The symbol believes retailers can expect to recoup an average investment of £50,000 in their first six months.

The Wheatley Hill store is a compressed version of the latest Premier offer, first revealed at the 1,750 sq ft Singh’s Teynham Road store in Sheffield last summer. In the wake of its £200,000 refit, it is now seen as the flagship store in the group.

As part of its plans, Premier has divided the UK into eight regions. Over the next few months it is aiming to have both a large and smaller format store open in each one, in order to make it easier for prospective retailer customers to view it first-hand. Based on visits to the Durham store, Premier said it had attracted interest from 22 retailers and had moved to the planning stage with 10 of these.

“I think smaller stores are going to be the next battleground in convenience,” said Booker brand director Martyn Parkinson. “I think we have a really strong offer with this format and we are very excited about rolling it out further.”