A Lancashire convenience shop is to become the first in the country to get a facelift to compete with the return of supermarkets on the high street.
Work has started on overhauling the Spar store in Liverpool Road, Penwortham, which has been selected by the national chain to pilot the new look which, if successful, will be rapidly rolled out across the country.
The store will close at 3pm on Sunday and reopen on Wednesday morning with the new look.
Kevin Hunt, managing director of Lawrence Hunt and Co, which owns the store, said the refurbishment was a direct response to major supermarket chains bringing in smaller stores.
He said: “If you look at brands like Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local, Morrison’s with its ‘local’ store and now Waitrose, it was not something Spar could afford to ignore.
“Our situation in Penwortham is quite specific as we have a new Sainsbury’s superstore opening across the road from us in the next couple of years, so we could either sit back and wait for that to hit us or react.
“It is not a knee-jerk reaction to that though, we have been speaking to our customers about what they want from us and a lot of it has come down to what products are available in our stores.”
The new look, which will be the store’s first revamp since 2004, will see it introduce more fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh bread and meats, and make physical improvements including widening aisles.
There will also be changes to the outside of the building, which will see it given a new frontage.
Mr Hunt said he expected the changes to be rolled out across the Spar group quickly and has earmarked a number of the more than 20 stores he owns for the changes.
He said: “We have a number of sites we could have done this at, but with Penwortham also being our head office, having the Sainsbury’s arriving within the next couple of years and being on a busy road, it made sense.
“If it works, it will be an extremely quick transition and I want Lawrence Hunt stores to be at the front of the queue for that.”