Perhaps the most striking of the four pilots is the store run by franchisee Thomas Ennis on Merrion Row, in the heart of upmarket

Dublin. As customers enter the store, they are confronted with a space-age fresh food fixture that seems to span its width and is stacked with sandwiches, chilled meals, desserts and fruit under the banner 'Enjoy now'. The fixture includes Spar's new range of premium Signature sandwiches, alongside its existing Classic range.

There's an Insomnia coffee concession, The Treehouse juice & smoothie bar and a substantial food-to-go counter offering a combination of hot and cold meals which, by lunchtime, has a queue snaking around the back aisle of beers, wines and spirits.

The store also boasts a Dish 'n' Dash stand where customers can assemble their own meals from a selection of hot and cold prepared foods that are rotated throughout the day. And, to the rear of the store is an unusually large beers, wines and spirits fixture and the store's 'take home' offer, which includes a gondola end of premium Italian grocery items. The only remnant of a traditional c-store is the 'stock up' ambient grocery fixture located just behind the coffee-house style Chill Zone, with its sofas, tables, chairs and TV. Like

the Abbey Street store, it sells Spar's 'Let's celebrate' proposition - a cross-promotional box of wine , crisps and chocolates.

Each concession has its own till point, and for everything else customers can pay at the main cashier desks located in a bank in the middle of the store. The store may be just over 3,000 sq ft, but it boasts no fewer than seven till points.

Ennis is also experimenting with a new catering proposition that Spar hopes to extend to other stores. There's a sign at the deli counter inviting customers to ring or fax through their orders for lunchtime meetings or events.