EasyJet’s Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has been forced to reassess plans to open a budget food store in Croydon.

First proposed last August, easyGroup had planned to open a budget food shop at the nine-storey former Metlife building in South Croydon as well as a hotel and gym. However, following talks with Croydon Council, it realised that the location fell outside of the area’s retail zone and that it was unlikely to receive planning permission for the store.

Rather than press ahead with the application, it has decided to open a mock up shop on the first floor of the building and use it to conduct research into the model with focus groups and retail experts. The mock up shop is set to be ready within the next two months.

Believing there was a gap in the UK retail food market, Haji-Ioannou hoped the easyFoodstore would be a budget offering below that of Aldi and Lidl, and would sell “no brand name” chilled and ambient foods at bargain prices.

According to an easyGroup spokesman, the group is currently looking at alternative locations for potential easyFoodstore sites. It has earmarked “less affluent areas” such as Thornton Heath, Catford, Peckham and Woolwich, as well as other sites in Croydon.