British supermarket giant J Sainsbury is expected to unveil plans for new flexible store formats this week, in a bid to enable stores to adapt itself to the particular requirements of “clusters” of shoppers.

The retailer, which ranks as the second-biggest supermarket group in the UK, has reportedly developed the new flexible formats in an attempt to boost efficiency; stock levels can be altered to reflect different tastes in the area, or to better suit the stores at which more families shop regularly. Two stores recently refurbished with the new format are due to open this week, and if they prove successful, Sainsbury will be rolling out the changes across its chain.

The format changes are part of a store reinvigoration programme that plans to have refitted 120 Sainsbury stores by the end of this year. The programme has been developed in line with information on customer spending habits garnered from the company’s Reward Points loyalty cards.

A Sainsbury insider explained to the Financial Times that the data highlights the fact that two stores with similar turnovers, in similar demographical areas, can actually have huge differences in the way their trade is driven.

Sainsbury’s CEO Sir Peter Davis is due to announce the company’s interim results tomorrow [Wednesday] and market watchers are expecting H1 profits before exceptional items of between £300m and £310m (US$425-439m).

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