Tesco has thrown its full support behind its One Stop c-store chain, revealing plans to refurbish 40% of the estate and halve the number of stores set to convert to the Tesco Express format this year.

One Stop chief executive David Turner said that 200 of the chain's 507 stores would be refurbished this year as part of an ongoing programme. Another 150 stores were revamped last year.

Meanwhile, two new stores have opened this year, with a further 18 expected to open by the end of 2007.

Five or six One Stops will be converted to the Tesco Express fascia - compared with 13 last year.

The One Stop refurbishments had proved popular, said Turner. "Our research tells us our customers are very pleased with the changes we have already made - in particular the layout, improved fixtures and refrigeration and the introduction of new products.

"Customer tracker and question time meetings show more customers are shopping with us because of these improvements."

Greater emphasis is

being placed on fresh produce in-store. Posters are being displayed in shop windows to highlight that its fruit and vegetables are the same price as Asda's.

"We believe the Asda reference gives a very quick recall and understanding of value," said Turner.

"It acts as a call to action for customers to shop for fruit and veg in our stores rather than go to the trouble and expense of driving further afield."

One-Stop's 43-strong own-label range is also being promoted.

In spite of Tesco's bullish outlook for One Stop, Turner admitted there would be some store closures. "There are a few stores where the lease has expired or they no longer fit into our portfolio," he said. "Some stores do not have the space for our refreshed layout."

The chain would continue to be run separately from Tesco, added Turner.

"One Stop has its own identity and operating model and is successful in its own right in meeting the needs of customers."

First-quarter trading had been positive, with like-for-like sales up 6.5% and double-digit growth in grocery, chilled and off licence.