iceland kettering

Four stores including Kettering (pictured) have benefited from the quicker refit

Iceland is accelerating its store refit programme with a new low-cost alternative to a full refurbishment.

The trial programme requires stores to close for three to five days instead of three weeks and costs “substantially” less than the usual £500,000-plus for a comprehensive refurb.

The trial started in July with a refit of the Oldham branch in Greater Manchester, introducing many of the cosmetic updates of a full refurbishment but without some practical upgrades. While fully refurbished branches gain upright freezers, Oldham continues to feature chest freezers only. Digital signage introduced in the full refit programme has also not been installed.

Read more: Iceland to launch new website with improved capabilities

Three more branches have since benefited from the quicker refit, including Kettering, Northamptonshire. This is in addition to the 74 that have been comprehensively remodelled in a programme that began with the opening of a concept store in Clapham in 2016. “These are total makeovers involving investment of £0.5m-plus per store, and typically involving a three-week store closure while the work is carried out,” an Iceland spokesman said. 

“We have also begun trials of a lower-cost refit model that delivers a similar cosmetic improvement at substantially lower cost, and only requires a three to five-day store closure to complete. It’s a mini refit which gives the fascia much of the look of the major refit at a considerably lower cost.”

All refitted stores see the introduction of new ranges, including frozen, chilled, fresh and alcohol lines.

Twenty-three comprehensive refurbishments have been carried out since March this year, with another seven due to be completed by March 2019. Stores to recently reopen after the treatment include Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and at East Acton and Harold Hill in London. Another was due to re-open at Glasgow Hillhead this week, the spokesman said.

A major programme of new store openings both under Iceland’s own banner and its Food Warehouse fascia is also underway. Thirty new Food Warehouse branches are due to have been opened in the financial year to March 2019, bringing the total to 89.

The Grocer revealed last week that the supermarket chain had agreed to acquire 19 former Poundworld stores, with 15 set to become new Iceland branches and five converted to The Food Warehouse.