United Co-operatives has begun a refurbishment programme for its biggest stores at a time when many of its fellow societies are attempting to dispose of their superstores so they can 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. Work has already begun on its store in Earlham, Manchester, which is due to reopen for business on July 14.
Tim Hurrell, general manager for United Co-op’s food group, said it refused to bow to the competition from the bigger 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 that 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 which are more than 3,000 sq ft in size. However, he continued: “We would need to see results from Wythenshawe and Earlham before we start the roll-out.”
Changes to the 26,000 sq ft Wythenshawe store include new hot food, salad bar, butchers, bakers and deli sections, plus “grab it” promotional signage and improved lighting.
Plasma screens advertising both 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 the front of the store used as a CTN area.
Rod Addy