WeightWatchers opened its first bricks and mortar outlet this week, in Reading, to trial new ideas such as meal deals and to help reach a new audience.

The 16,000 sq ft ‘lifestyle centre’ stocks 150 WeightWatchers products and runs group support meetings and one-to-one consultations. It also offers the first WeightWatchers meal deal - comprising a wrap, sandwich or chilled ready meal plus crisps or fruit and a drink from £3.50.

“The centre will offer a more personalised and flexible service for busy people like working mums and office workers who can pop in when they have time,” said WeightWatchers director of products and licensing Chris Stirk.

He added that the timing was right to establish the deals after signing a licensing agreement with Vimto at the end of last year to produce WeightWatchers drinks. It meant the brand now had the necessary range of products to offer meal deals.

The store would also serve as a testing ground for new products and concepts before they were presented to other retailers, Stirk said. Small batches of new flavours and formats would be trialled, which would have the added benefit of minimising cannibalisation from the multiples.

Success at the centre with meal deals would also help WeightWatchers build a convincing case for supermarkets to run them, Stirk added.

If the pilot store proves a hit, WeightWatchers plans to open other branches in London, Birmingham and Leeds.