Imperial Tobacco will take the lion’s share of the dark market in shops under 3,000sq ft by investing in making 17,000 gantries compliant by next April.

The Lambert & Butler manufacturer said it had committed to a “substantial increase” in investment ahead of the display ban.

The figure is in excess of the 13,800 stores being made compliant by JTI.

Imperial will differ in its approach by fitting frames from September but leaving the installation of doors until as close to the April 6 2015 implementation date as possible.

It said the two-stage process would prolong the visibility of brands for customers.

The company said that, while the display ban will be a physical barrier, “mental barriers will be removed if retailers follow our guidance and aspire towards best practice on ranging, merchandising and availability”.

Special units have been created for retailers in Scotland – where retailers will only be allowed to open a small window on the gantry – and Imperial has created dedicated RYO units to help the growing category.

[pull_quote_right]Mental barriers will be removed if retailers follow our guidance and aspire towards best practice on ranging, merchandising and availability[/pull_quote_right]

It has already begun using van sales to help retailers maximise availability.

Imperial head of sales Martin Goodall said: “The additional investment for our best in class solution means all Imperial Tobacco units will now be installed in two stages. Our professional team of installers will visit retailers from September to begin the installation of the door frames.

“The doors themselves will then be installed during a second visit as close to the April 6 2015 implementation date as possible.

“In the last six months leading up to the implementation of full display restrictions, we will continue to support retailers to ensure they are fully compliant with the new regulations and understand the penalties for failure to comply.

“Our experienced team will be on hand every step of the way and together we will continue to service our customers and provide them with the very best support.”

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