Musgrave has partnered with WHSmith to open nine trial stores in a bid to extend the reach of its Budgens and Londis brands into locations such as hospitals, airports and railway stations.

Under the deal, nine existing WHSmith stores will be converted to include either Budgens or Londis branded fixtures, as well as branding on the fascia.

The food offer will vary from store to store, with some fixtures featuring a small range of convenience foods, and others featuring a wider range of essential ambient and chilled foods including evening meal solutions.

“We are delighted to confirm that we have agreed a trial partnership with WHSmith,” said Budgens and Londis MD Donal Horgan. “The trial with WHSmith seeks to capitalise on the capacity we have within our supply chain.”

It’s not the first time Musgrave has partnered with a retailer. Last year, the wholesaler trialled a similar offer in Boots. However, the Irish wholesaler said the move was “absolutely not” an indication of a wider change in direction, adding that its primary focus continued to be supporting its retailers. It added that it had no plans to trial similar formats on the high street.

Seven trial stores have already opened since September, with two more set to open before the end of next month. The stores already featuring Budgens or Londis branding are in West Middlesex and Southampton hospitals, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, East Midlands and Heathrow airports, and Guildford railway station.