With their need for security and being separated off from the rest of the depot, tobacco rooms can be a bit claustrophic and uninviting, but a new generation of rooms being developed by JTI is aiming to change all that. Its Arena project is intended to provide a bright environment where retailers can easily find what they're looking for. It is also looking to introduce features that can interact with retailers.

After its debut at Dhamecha's Wembley depot, the second pilot room in the project was installed at the West Bromwich depot of Landmark Wholesale member Hyperama. The room features new shelving and a bright environment which makes it easy to see the products. Light boxes have been moved down to eye level after research found that customers were not looking at the top shelf.

There is also an information corner, which includes a video screen. The screen can run a playsheet highlighting a variety of brands and activity, and has a 3G connection which means the message can be changed remotely at the flick of a switch.

Two months on, depot manager Andy Mitchell says the changes have been well received. "Customer reaction has all been positive. The planogram has been done to the specification of our sales. Everything is well displayed and merchandised, it is a spacious environment and is appreciated by customers and staff."

As part of the pilot scheme, research is also being carried out with retailers to find out how well JTI's messages and display materials are working.

Customer marketing manager Richard Tyler says: "The first set of display materials was very corporate. It was very dark and didn't do the room any favours so we quickly changed that and the graphics so it was all more retailer-friendly. We need to look at the messages we're putting across so that we give more information about the brand and the products."

One option, he says, would be to introduce scanners which retailers could use to scan products in the room, and would in turn tell the retailer about the product. He adds: "Retailers have a lot to think about and we endeavour to give them the information they need in an easy format to help them understand the brand propositions."