Mills Group, ranked at number 19 in The Grocer Top 50 list, has been working hard to steer through a period of major change. 

In November, the company announced plans to roll out three store models geared to rural, city centre and neighbourhood locations to half its estate within a year. By MD Nigel Mills' own admission, progress has been slower than initially expected.

"The first store in Doncaster was refitted by the end of last month," he says. "We'll start the bigger refits at the end of August."

Mills has been focusing on improving services. Chip and PIN has only just gone live in all stores, for example. But Mills believes the £140,000 invested in updating software has been more than worth it.

"We lost £1,000 because of card fraud in the 12 months prior to installing chip and PIN and we believe it will stop that from happening again," he says. "It also gives us more credibility as a retailer, because all the major supermarkets are chip and PIN compliant."

Mills has also been rolling out Verco chillers to half the retail estate in response to demand for grab-and-go products and chilled soft drinks.

Sales have rocketed and there are plans to install more chillers for alcoholic drinks.

Meanwhile, the retail chain has been updating planograms for various product categories after introducing trial blueprints in areas such as petfood, cereals and frozen food. The latest categories to get the treatment have been ambient and non food.

The overhaul of Mills Group's estate continues, with six stores disposed of in the past year and four or five more planned before 2007. The target number remains at 76 by the end of the year.

Although this is less than the 80 recorded in our Top 50 feature in February, Mills believes internal store changes, including planograms, will take sales past last year's £52.7m total.