With just seven months to go, preparations for the tobacco display ban are in full swing, retailers report.

Many stores, such as Dean Holborn’s in Redhill, Surrey, which have secured JTI funding, have already had their gantries retrofitted with rails in readiness for the addition of sliding doors prior to 6 April.

The work of fitting doors is set to commence in Scotland next month, with stores in England and Wales to follow, JTI head of sales Andy Stevens said. JTI has committed to covering up 13,759 gantries in total.

Premier retailer Steve Archer, who has already fitted an overhead Severtab unit in his Biddulph store in Stoke on Trent, is having a JTI gantry with sliding doors fitted in his larger Porthill Premier.

“The frame was fitted in August and sliding doors will be added in a few months. There will be four sliding doors and the gantry will be remerchandised with JTI brands in the areas which will be exposed when they are opened,” he said.

Imperial Tobacco is also implementing a two-step conversion process. It recently announced that increased investment had enabled it to push back the date from which it would start to fit doors, to January 2015. The move would allow retailers to make the most of open displays for longer, a spokesman said.

“Our team of installers will visit retailers from September to begin the installation of the door frames. The doors themselves will then be installed during a second visit as close to the implementation date as possible,” Imperial head of sales Martin Goodall added.

Stores not receiving manufacturer-funded displays are also readying themselves. Jamie Keshwara, who owns two Nisa stores and a newsagents in Peterborough with brother Anish, has asked JTI and Imperial to sign over his gantries so he can implement his own solutions. “I’m interested in a vending solution and plan to visit stores in Ireland for research,” he said.

On the right track

“Imperial is funding my gantry alterations and my rep has made numerous visits to keep me up to date with the process, which all seems to be going to plan. The rails will be fitted shortly and doors early next year.”

Simon Biddle, Simply Fresh, Redditch, Worcestershire

”JTI has been really supportive so far. The rails have already been fitted to our gantry, but we’ve not had a date for when the doors will go up just yet.”

Jamie Patel, Weybridge News, Surrey

A different approach

CRA 2014 winner David Charman is to implement a unique dark market solution at his Spar store in Kent.

The 2,800sq ft store will introduce a vending machine for cigarettes, while his one metre gantry will be split in two with the bottom half fitted with sliding doors to cover up roll your own tobacco and the exposed top filled with electronic cigarettes.

David believes the concept is the best one for his business, Imperial Tobacco and for his customers.

The vending machine cost about £5,000, but David hopes it will speed up transaction times under the display ban.