United Co-operatives is trialling off-site construction in an attempt to speed up its development of new stores.
The society, which operates 402 c-stores throughout the North of England, the Midlands and North Wales, is testing the method at a 4,000sq ft development in Widnes, Cheshire.
It aims to establish whether manufacturing store shells in a factory and then craning in the modules can enable it to deliver faster store openings and reduce the impact on the environment.
The method should allow completion of a watertight building in just one day, with the final fitting out taking up to four weeks.
For the Widnes trial, modules were delivered with a number of features already in place, including plumbing, chillers and a freezer, as well as work-tops, a tiled floor and doors.
United Co-op property group manager Derek Fogg said:
"Off- site manufacturing is certainly part of the future for United Co-op."