spar fascia 2

Source: Spar

The format will be suitable for stores of around 1,000 sq ft

Spar has set its sights on shaking up competition among small convenience stores, with plans for a new store format.

MD Louise Hoste told The Grocer the symbol group was exploring a new urban, transient store format that targets shoppers on the go.

While planning was in its infancy, Hoste said it would be suitable for city centre stores of around 1,000 sq ft, with a strong focus on “food for now, rather than food for later”.

However, Hoste explained there could be another version of the format suited for a more rural location, catering to “tonight’s tea”. 

It comes after the business announced last month it would invest £122m into its supply chain and stores over the next 12 months, including store acquisitions, refits, new lorries and warehousing facilities.

“We are starting to explore what a blueprint would look like for a smaller store that reflects a true transient, on-the-go type format with a core convenience store offer,” said Hoste.

“The product available in each store will be aligned to its dominant customer mission, so if it is a transient or city centre store, then it would be food for now. If it is on the edge of a village, then it might be tonight’s tea.

“We will be looking at getting as much as possible out of these selected smaller stores and ensuring the proposition matches the most relevant customer mission for each store to deliver more profit for the store owner. We are currently investigating potential trial sites.”

She said the symbol group would take learnings from Henderson’s recent launch of a new retail format at the 2,500 sq ft Queen’s University Belfast store in Northern Ireland. It has been specifically designed to cater for the needs of the 27,000 students and staff of the universtiy, bringing new food concepts and design features such as a non-dairy self-serve coffee concept.

But Hoste said the business would not replicate the format in its entirety. “You’ve got students who are wanting food now, but at the same time, in the downtime, you’ve got lecturers who are wanting dinner for tonight, so I think that’s quite a specific format,” she said.

Premier showcased a new format for smaller convenience stores earlier this year at a 600 sq ft site in Wheatley Hill, near Durham. The format put a major focus on fresh and chilled products, as well as food to go, vaping and premium spirits. It also included a Post Office.

Nisa is also targeting retailers operating in more compact spaces of up to 1,000 sq ft with its Express store format which launched in 2020. It told The Grocer in February it aimed to have 40 stores operating under the fascia by the end of the year.