Costcutter is using its Shopper First programme as a carrot to drive up standards and address inconsistencies across its retail estate, chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer told the IGD Convenience Conference last week.

Willson-Rymer said the group was targeting 25 Shopper First refits by the end of the year, but only for stores with the required standards.He added: “Inconsistency is an issue with Costcutter. We’ve got stores that haven’t earned the right to have our brand - this applies to many independents, not just us,” he said.

“We’re using Shopper First to drive store standards. One of our retailers called me to ask to go on the list [for refits] - I told him he had to improve his store before going on the Shopper First list.”

He cited Costcutter in Kirton, Lincolnshire, which had previously focused too much on the lower-end demographic. “It had the most mixed demographic in the Shopper First results. Now it focuses much more on fresh, food to go, European foods and bake-off,” he said.

Owner Suenita Keshwara said: “There’s no point making the store look good if it’s running as it was before. It’s gone surprisingly well.”

Under the Shopper First programme, every store has been given a personalised shopper dashboard, based on a study of thousands of shoppers.