Sainsbury may have reported its best performance for over a decade last week but it faces a struggle to silence its critics. A 30.7% jump in profits and more than 6% rise in like-for-like sales failed to impress the City, with analysts pointing out that Sainsbury has yet to show it can reach beyond its traditional south-east heartland and attract families back. A strong non-food offer is seen as integral to achieving this but, as one analyst says: "A large part of Sainsbury's recovery in like-for-like sales has been from fresh and chilled offers. But non-food is a greater uncertainty as the retailer lacks the consumer base to do it as well as Asda and Tesco." However, the company hopes its latest Sainsbury's Savacentre value format will go some way to appeasing its detractors. In what it calls one of its most dramatic steps to date, it has invested £13m in developing the first Savacentre in nine years, at the end of the high street in the Northfield part of Birmingham. The store opened on May 30 and will be followed by five more trials this financial year. It may have the same name but is not merely an extension of the old Savacentre offer ­ at 35,000sq ft, Northfield is half the size of the old Savacentres. Almost a third of the store is devoted to non food ­ the largest proportion of any Sainsbury's store of this size. Its development is part of a wider reinvigoration programme in which Sainsbury is testing a number of store formats to appeal to different customer segments. The company sees the biggest opportunities in what it calls foodies and families, with formats being developed to attract these groups at different lifestyle stages. The Savacentre is designed to appeal to less affluent families. "There is a huge opportunity to take the brand into areas where there are fewer foodies and more families," explains Sainsbury's senior manager, format marketing, Richard Cristofoli. "Our research shows there is a latent warmth towards the Sainsbury's brand from people in this group, but it was seen as just beyond their reach." Savacentre stocks a simpler food range than in other formats, with emphasis on good value. The offer is about family needs and treats so the focus is on such categories as crisps and biscuits, staple foods, instant meals and CDs and DVDs for the kids. But Cristofoli is adamant that quality has not been compromised. "This group has a different mindset to that of our foodies. Food is less emotive, being more about good quality basics like bread and fruit and vegetables," he says. "The parents' ambition is for their children and choice for them is about CDs, children's clothing and having a new top for the weekend, rather than a sixth balsamic vinegar on the shelves." But the store still stocks a range of foodie lines, such as Taste the Difference. In order to drive reappraisal of the Sainsbury's offer and differentiate the format from a typical Sainsbury, the company tested a number of names. Customers voted for Sainsbury's Savacentre, with sava' communicating good value for money and centre' saying there is more than food on offer. Locals were also used to the name, thanks to an old Savacentre store in nearby Oldbury. Design company 20/20 created the Savacentre branding while Sainsbury's other two design agencies, Amalgam and Woodward, worked together on the interior design. The store uses the strapline Making life taste better for less', and the main entrance features this, together with five changeable poster slots for in-store promotions. Customers walk into a seasonal area, currently displaying garden and barbeque products, then enter the kids' shop and clothing area. The clothing offer has been developed especially for Savacentre, with a new Jeff & Co range called Essentials, featuring shirts for £7, and a basic Adams Childrenswear offer with t-shirts retailing at £2. The first food offer is instant meals. Signage and graphics use language and images relevant to the market, so Takeaway and Bread replace Food to Go and Bakery & Patisserie. There are no posters of foccacia or sun blush tomatoes but rather basic foods feature, such as two slices of ham for lunch that day. The deli area is also the first to offer a pie counter. Within the main aisles, volume lines like soft drinks and toilet rolls are merchandised on lower cost racking. Packs of stock are located on top of the racks ready for easy shelf restocking. In the health and beauty area signage at the top of shelves opens up to reveal more stock. The middle promotional aisle contains stacks of bulk products. An innovative display mechanism sees chilled milk and fruit juice being merchandised on dollies. Concealed doors behind the displays can be opened up and ready-merchandised new dollies rolled in without the product having to hit the shop floor and disrupt customers. Brands are important to this market and beacon brands are used to signpost categories. Heinz baked beans iconography tells customers they are entering the grocery aisle while brand names such as Walkers, Stella Artois, McVitie's, Kit Kat, Smirnoff, Ribena, Colgate and Fairy mark out individual categories. "We are providing the right vehicle for these brands rather than cluttering up the aisles with individual brand material," says Cristofoli. The BWS aisle is dominated by beer, which is featured on the right hand side as you walk down the store, an area traditionally given over to wine. Sainsbury's Bank is promoted on gondola ends, with emphasis on products such as pet insurance and credit cards rather than home improvement loans. To launch the store, Sainsbury used 48-sheet and six-sheet posters as well as dropping leaflets to 60,000 households. These used the straplines No nonsense shopping' and Sava stack on favourite brands'. On the opening day one customer came in with the leaflet and bulk bought all the brands on offer. Sainsbury sees the capacity for 90 Savacentres in total. There will be no size restriction as the format has been developed to fit stores from 31,000sq ft to 70,000sq ft. As well as reaching new customers the retailer hopes to learn lessons about the food/non food relationship that can be transported to other formats. "We have had to change our approach from thinking about food then non food to considering non food first. It's about bringing our passion for food to non food and bringing Sainsbury's to customers in a way that is relevant to them at that time and in that location," says Cristofoli. {{FEATURES }}