Sales of fresh meat in Spar stores supplied by AF Blakemore have soared 58% over the past year as part of a drive to attract more top-up food shoppers.

The 700 Spar stores had benefited from a relaunch of its meat range a year ago, said Blakemore.

As part of this, the wholesaler had increased the frequency of promotions to make fresh meat deals a feature of every leaflet delivered to consumers. It had also issued new-look planograms to retailers giving meat more prominence in the chilled aisle. The planograms are seasonally adjusted.

The focus on meat is a key plank in the strategy announced last year by Blakemore Distribution MD Dennis Evans to help Spar retailers evolve from pure CTNs into local food stores.

"Meat is becoming an important part of Spar retailers' businesses and is a key element in the development of Blakemore's push to succeed in the fresh shopping market," said marketing director Ged Carter.

"The relaunch has inspired more Spar retailers to stock a better range of meat. This lets us meet more customer missions, including those shopping for 'tonight's tea'."

As well as improving the range of meat available, it has introduced new quality control standards for cutting and packaging meat. A regional supplier has also revamped its packaging so each type of meat is now colour-coded.

"Our retailers' confidence and enthusiasm for our meat range is much improved as a result," added Carter, who revealed that fruit and vegetables were the next category in line for a revamp.