John Wood Alldays has opened its first new store since the disastrous slump in 1999 which left it with debts of more than £180m. The store is a new build in Barry, South Wales, although it is on the site of a former Alldays, and it features an updated fascia and new layout and ranging. Recently appointed marketing director Sally Nichols described the new store as "our first step towards giving the customers what they want". Alldays conducts regular focus group sessions with customers and she said the results of these showed customers wanted stores that were easier to shop. It has simplified ranging, lowered fixtures, widened aisles and improved lighting, which all makes for a more pleasant, light and airy shopping environment, said Nichols. There is also new directional signage and the amount of promotional signage has been cut back. She said cutting out the "noise" caused by too much promotional signage meant that fewer, more distinctive signs stood out more. There are more silver and chrome fixtures giving a cleaner, modern image, but these are tempered by a red brick floor and use of the warm Alldays orange. The new store will be allowed to bed in for three weeks before Alldays starts to evaluate the success of the format. Work is also under way on a second new build store in Ashington, West Sussex, which is due to open in September. It will incorporate successful features from Barry. Nichols said: "Ashington is a much larger store than Barry, which is quite tight at about 1,200 sq ft, and it will give us a chance to try out the new design with more space." Elements which work in both stores will then be used in a series of planned store refits. Nichols said Alldays' debts "were not a problem" in devising the new format, and the banks had been very supportive. {{NEWS }}