First fruits of Philips’ experimentation drive include vegetables displayed on ice at Kirkstall store

Grocer Morrisons has picked its Kirkstall store near Leeds to kick-start a series of store innovations as part of new chief executive Dalton Philips’ improvement drive.

The store has been designated one of Philips’ ‘lab’ shops where new approaches are tested ahead of a wider roll-out, Retail Week can reveal. The store entrance has been opened up so customers are greeted with market-style tables of fresh fruit and vegetables instead of barrier gates, promotions and baskets.

On the first run of tables vegetables are displayed on ice in a bid to push the grocer’s fresh credentials. Posters also explain the use of the ice tables.

Other changes in the store include a longer butchery counter, and each of the counters on Market Street has a small LCD screen advertising the various offers available.

Philips told Retail Week a series of “fresh ideas” were on trial. “We’re testing a lot of things to see what works and what doesn’t and what will improve our stores.”

He said ‘lab’ stores would test elements including reducing assortment to free space for additional categories, revamping the store environment, making processes more efficient and reinforcing the grocer’s reputation for fresh food.

He revealed that some of the ideas had been garnered from the US and other international markets. “Some of the trials have not been tried in the UK before so we need to see if they will work,” he said.

Morrisons’ store in York is also one of the grocer’s ‘lab’ stores. Philips said: “In York we are trying out some different operational processes. To the naked eye there isn’t any change in York as it’s all back office stuff but it’s aimed at improving efficiency.”

He said other tests were ongoing in further stores, including the Idle store in Bradford where it is trialling a concession for value fashion retailer Peacocks.

The pilot forms part of Philips’ vision for Morrisons to improve in-store execution and profitability.

At its interim results in September, he said: “I’m not a risk-taker, but I’m passionate about experimentation.” Morrisons will update on trading next week.