United Co-operatives has launched a refurbishment programme for its largest stores as many of its fellow societies are attempting to dispose of their superstores in order to concentrate on c-stores.

It has spent £800,000 refurbishing its superstore in Wythenshawe, Manchester and is considering rolling out the updated design to 11 additional stores of similar size, starting with a store in Earlham, Manchester. The Earlham outlet is undergoing its refit at the moment and will reopen for business on July 14.

Tim Hurrell, general manager for United Co-op’s food group, told The Grocer this week that it was refusing to bow to competition from the top retailers: “If you were to summarise our strategy, it’s about small to medium-sized stores.

“However, we aim to develop these larger outlets as well and believe they will be able to stand alongside anything the multiples have to offer.”

He added that parts of the Wythenshawe blueprint could be applied to the 40 other United Co-op foodstores that measure more than 3,000 sq ft in size.

However, he continued: “We would need to see results from Wythenshawe and Earlham first before we commence the roll out.”

Changes to the 26,000 sq ft Wythenshawe store include new hot food, salad bar, butchers, bakers and deli sections, together with “grab it” promotional signage and improved lighting. Plasma screens advertising products and promotions have been installed throughout the store.

The electrical goods section, previously at the front of the store, has been shifted further inside, with pride of place now going to a CTN area.