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Abel & Cole has launched its direct to consumer, refillable brand Club Zero into physical retail.

Several independent grocers are stocking the Club Zero range, with customers charged for the product and a deposit for the reusable packaging. When the retailer collects back more than 25 containers from customers, these are returned to Abel & Cole for washing and reuse.

More than 150 stores have signed up to stock the range as part of the in-store refill trial, with talks ongoing with large independent chains and major grocers.

The launch has been made in collaboration with reusable packaging company Dizzie – formerly known as Good Club – which started as a zero-waste online supermarket before pivoting into a B2B “reusable packaging as a service” to brands and retailers in late 2022. Dizzie is working with Abel & Cole on sourcing organic refills for the trial as well as packing the product, providing the packaging, and handling the operations for recommissioning the packaging.

A handful of independent stores in London and the south east are already stocking the range, among them two Refill Therapy stores in Hackney and Stratford.

The trials aim to “solve some of the drawbacks of in-store refill shopping” said Dizzie founder Ben Patten.

“Other schemes have provided incredibly rich insight,” Patten told The Grocer. “The advantage of working with independent stores is that many make sustainability central to their brand and proposition. Their shoppers are often prepared to prioritise the value of reduced packaging impact and pay the marginal premium. This is very important to Abel & Cole, given their sustainability-focused proposition.

“The stores are also able to be more flexible – we can test different approaches,” Patten added. “The intention is to develop, experience and grow some more scale and visibility of reuse. Much of what we work on will be transferable to a more formal supply chain, but our conversations with larger grocers are all about ensuring packaging, operations and technology work in their domain too.”

Abel & Cole’s online Club Zero refill proposition launched in 2020. After continued investment and customer demand, the refill range has grown to around 100 SKUs, ranging from pantry pots to cleaning pouches and, since October last year, refillable plastic milk bottles.

More than a quarter of Abel & Cole customers now shop the Club Zero range each week, with customers showing a preference for the refillable format when alike products are offered in both single-use and refillable Club Zero formats.

The company has plans for further range expansion, including delisting single-use formats where possible, expanding the pantry pot range with Dizzie, and evolving its reusable plastic milk bottle innovation.