Spar UK is strengthening its position as a convenience retailer with a burst of marketing development focusing on added value foods, news and magazines, plus mobile phone and banking services. Marketing director Neil Henry said the time of having a product in every food category was over, but that Spar would concentrate on filling stores with fresh ready meals and food to go. He wants to boost sales of Spar brand products from £360m to £400m this year. Spar is cutting down on branded goods in canned and ambient categories but extending choice in the fresh food and toiletries fixtures. "We're revamping core areas and repositioning products we already sell to give them a broader appeal as well as working on new convenience ideas," said Henry. Spar is bringing in new product ideas such as fun-sized packs of cheese, multi-pack cooked meats for lunchboxes, fresh pasta and sauce recipes and packaged salads. Henry also aims to double Spar's £30m sales in mobile phone top-up cards in the next year and increase sales of newspapers and magazines. He said this year's marketing would focus on Spar's Xtra value campaign, with dedicated fixtures in every store promoting 20 nationwide promotions each week. Seasonal products will also have dedicated fixtures and new 3D shelf sign fixtures will draw customers to promotions elsewhere in the stores. Plans for a partnership with one or more high street banks are nearing the trial stage too. Retail development controller Barry Wallis said such services could range from more advanced ATMs for deposits and bill payments to a full co-branded "shop within a shop". "We're working with a number of partners to identify where services would be needed," he said, but refused to confirm which banks or where the trials would be. Spar is investing a "substantial" sum in a new mystery shopper campaign in a bid to raise customer standards and check retailers are promoting products consistently across its entire estate. Each store will be visited three times a year and tested on 14 criteria, including cleanliness and the availability of milk and bread, plus three promotional items. {{NEWS }}