Sales of fresh produce through Londis stores have soared by almost 50% in the past year as quality, availability and lead times improved.

Trading director Willie Hamilton said that more than 1,300 Londis stores were now stocking fresh produce.

"We are also able to respond to seasonal changes more effectively and efficiently," he commented.

Over the summer, sales of tomatoes were up 170%, iceberg lettuce up 96%, and cucumbers up 64%.

Londis retailer Barrie Seymour of Liversedge in West Yorkshire said a retailer-driven campaign to boost fresh volumes had paid off. "A change in supplier has meant that the quality of produce is miles better and service is improving all the time, too," he said. "Last year my fresh sales were about £200 a week, and this week they totalled £645. I have invested heavily in promotions and sampling, though."

At the last count, Budgens stores were also performing admirably on fresh, with a 20.9% year-on-year increase in fruit sales in July, boosted by sales of English strawberries.