Somerfield is to significantly increase its brand presence in the forecourt sector, with the start of a demanding store development programme throughout 2006/2007 on the sites acquired from Texaco and Fuelforce last year.

The first of 94 sites to be rolled out in the Somerfield Essentials format will be at Solent in Hampshire where the forecourt and shop will be knocked down and rebuilt starting in July - the c-store re-opening 16 weeks later as Somerfield Essentials, with Texaco branding on the forecourt. Somerfield currently operates 194 forecourts, with 24 now selling fuel under the Somerfield brand.

Eddie Jenkinson, fuels manager for Somerfield, said the new Essentials shops will be 2,000-3,000 sq ft, with a particular emphasis on fresh produce, using the company’s daily delivery service: "The roll-out is the start of the largest shop re-branding for several years and will dramatically increase the visibility of the Somerfield brand. There has been no re-branding of the acquired sites at all yet - so there has been no visible Somerfield signage."