North of England Spar distributor James Hall is urging retailers to "invest in fresh".

The group has unveiled a host of fresh food initiatives for the year ahead, including a new continental breakfast meal deal this month, and plans for new sandwich varieties plus a packaging revamp in July.

From September eight food-to-go bestsellers will be available in fresh, rather than frozen formats. Fresh food sales and development manager Stuart Berry said fresh produce offered "great profitability" with typical margins ranging from 30-70%.

He said that the new Bowland View depot in Preston was key to facilitating the company's focus on fresh, particularly its daily fresh delivery initiative.

"When we have massive peaks in sales of fresh produce the new centre will be able to cope with the demand it would never have worked in our old Blackpool Road site," said retail director Peter Dodding.

To encourage retailers to join Spar, the company has relaunched its Harvest Scheme loyalty programme, and will share the cost 50/50 with retailers purchasing additional shelving on existing ambient and fresh equipment until December.