Work starts on converting Tyneside Netto stores to Asda Supermarkets
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Less than six months after the carve-up of the Netto estate was confirmed, the Danish supermarket fascia is well on its way to disappearing from the UK retail landscape.
Haldanes – currently distracted by the collapse of its eponymous chain – was the first to complete conversion of its 20 acquired stores, with all now trading as UGO. Meanwhile, Iceland and Morrisons are in the midst of revamping the Netto sites that they acquired, with some stores – such as the new Morrisons in Tamworth, which I hope to visit later this week – already trading.
Asda itself, of course, has the biggest job, with 147 ex-Netto stores set to be switched over to its new Asda Supermarkets fascia. The first conversions – including Stainforth, below – opened last month, and I’m told by Asda’s PR people that the rest will be finished by November – an impressive rate of more than five conversions a week.
Here on Tyneside, three stores – in Westerhope (Stamfordham Road), Lemington (Northumberland Road) and Gateshead (Old Fold Road) – closed their doors as Netto last Saturday (11 June), and are each set to reopen as Asda Supermarkets on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 June following a £500,000 refit. For stats buffs, that’s around five times the reported cost of converting a Netto to a UGO.
However, where Haldanes’ UGO stores are very much an adaptation of the existing Netto fitout, Asda’s revamps are more extensive, involving stripping the stores back to their shell.
In terms of what the converted stores will offer the customer, Asda’s PR – like UGO’s – flags up the key themes of low prices, improved ranging and greater convenience.
On price, Asda’s main headline is that “all newly converted Netto stores will charge the same low price as every other Asda in the UK” – a simple, effective and powerful message that is likely to resonate with shoppers. It should also avoid scaring off loyal Netto customers with prices that are too high, a potential problem that fellow blogger Steve Dresser and Soult’s Retail View readers have highlighted in relation to UGO.
On range, Asda again echoes UGO in pledging that customers will be able to “complete a full weekly shop”, with each of the new stores featuring the the full breadth of Asda’s own-label food ranges, including Smart Price, Chosen By You, Extra Special, Good For You, Free From and Organics. However, the increase in product lines (SKUs) from 1,800 to 10,000 rather puts UGO’s 3,000 (or even the now-defunct Haldanes’ 7,000) in the shade.
Finally, in terms of convenience, Asda Supermarkets’ longer opening hours, extra services (PayPoint, National Lottery, cash machines), and the provision of a collection service for online orders should all go some way to increasing footfall and basket size from Netto levels.
Before the new Tyneside Asda stores open in a couple of weeks’ time, I should probably try and check out the recently opened Asda Supermarket in Benwell’s Adelaide Centre. This store opened on 19 May, but is a former Somerfield site rather than an ex-Netto.
Given this acquisition, I was curious about the implications for the Netto at Mill Lane, less than a mile away, which is among the 147 stores that Asda is supposed to be keeping. Tucked down a side street and housed in a corrugated shed, this is hardly the most glamorous of Netto sites, yet it provides an important service to a community that otherwise lacks much in the way of affordable grocery store provision.
I’m assured, however, that the Mill Lane Netto will still be converted to an Asda Supermarket in the coming months, though as yet there’s no confirmed date for when that changeover will take place. I will, naturally, give an update as soon as I receive further news.
In the meantime, do feel free to share your experiences of visiting any newly opened Asda Supermarkets. Whether you’re an ex-Netto shopper or someone who’s been attracted from elsewhere, I – and your fellow Soult’s Retail View readers – will be keen to hear your reactions.