A convenience store in Biddulph, Staffordshire, has become the first to install a new overhead cigarette dispenser in preparation for the tobacco display ban in small stores in just over 12 months’ time.

Premier retailers Steve and Val Archer replaced the traditional wall-mounted tobacco gantry in their busy 400sq ft store with a Servertab overhead unit in January, as part of a trial with Booker and Italian company Expotutto.

The easy-to-use Servertab unit holds even more tobacco than the old gantry and has freed up valuable wall space for higher margin products, Steve told Convenience Store.

“Shop sales have actually increased by £1,000 a week and profits by £300 since having the new unit thanks to the extra space we can now devote to alcohol and snacks,” he added.

The store’s tobacco sales, meanwhile, have remained steady.

“The new unit has also decreased staff workload. We can now fit up to three outers of 20s in one row - almost three times more than our old gantry which means that staff aren’t constantly having to restock it,” he said.

“The fact they don’t have to turn their backs to serve customers is another bonus. Staff feel more secure and customer interaction is also easier.”

Steve is now hoping to install the system in his two other Premier stores in advance of the display ban on April 6 2015.

The units, which can also be fitted with customer-facing digital media screens, were showcased at the 2014 National Convenience Show at the Birmigham NEC last week.