Retailers are shaving up to 30 seconds off transaction times through hi-tech tobacco retail systems, giving them an advantage as EUTPD II and plain packaging laws loom. 

Store owners claim they are also benefiting from increased security and better stock control after installing automated tobacco dispensers linked to their EPoS systems.   

Joe Williams, owner of The Village Shop in Hook Norton, installed a £4,000 automated system six months ago, which allows his staff to find tobacco products using a touchscreen.

He said: “Whereas before it was taking 30 to 40 seconds to find tobacco, now staff are taking around 10 seconds. 

“In terms of saving staff time, security and complying with new regulations, I think it has been worth the investment.”

Bolton retailer Baz Jethwa has installed a similar system at his revamped Costcutter Plodder Lane store in Farnworth, with tobacco dispensed from a machine above the shop, down a chute, to the front counter.

Whereas before it was taking 30 to 40 seconds to find tobacco, now staff are taking around 10 seconds.

“With 10 packs and smaller pouches going in six to 12 months’ time we’re not going to need as much space for tobacco,” he said. “This has given us more room to grow sales of e-cigarettes and spirits by the till.”

Susie Hawkins, director of the Simon Smith Group, added a Navarra tobacco dispenser at her Spar Highworth store last year.

She said: “If plain packaging does come in, it’s going to make serving quite difficult for cashiers.

“With our system, staff can just pick out the name of the product from the till, so I think the speed of our service will remain the same.”

Hugh Walker, head of sales at Navarra Retail Systems, said the company has set up more than 40 tobacco systems with UK convenience retailers – with 2,000 established in Ireland – and is working with symbol groups including Booker, Costcutter and Nisa to grow this further.