New store trial for Somerfield

Somerfield, the 600-strong supermarket chain, is believed to be piloting redesigned interiors schemes in a new flagship store opened in Newark this week. Adam Rawls Associates is known to be involved in design work.

The consultancy refuses to comment on the project, but new concepts for the front end of the store, including the customer service area, dairy and in-store bakery, have been implemented. New graphics building on existing departmental signage are also thought to have been introduced.

A spokeswoman for the supermarket chain insists that there is no “revolutionary new look. We are adding some new elements but this is part of an ongoing store improvement programme”.

But she adds: “Each store is designed to suit the needs of the local community and Adam Rawls has worked on this with us. But Adam Rawls has worked on other stores as well.”

Somerfield’s reluctance to talk about the new concepts at Newark is thought to stem from fears of an unfavourable reaction from investors in the City.

A City retail analyst predicts Somerfield could be considering floating on the stock market again. “It’s highly likely Somerfield will float. It just depends when. The last figures issued by the supermarket were reasonable, but it is regarded as being in a difficult position long term.

“Obviously, improving assets would be a good thing for them, and store refurbishment would be a key in sending out the right signals to investors. But any changes would have to be proved in the long term,” says the analyst, who declines to be named.

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