EXCLUSIVE: Store trials in symbols ahead of new HFSS law

Symbol group stores smaller than 2,000sq ft will not have to comply with the new HFSS legislation

HFSS High fat salt and sugar foods

Symbol groups are to conduct store trials and provide extensive field support ahead of the government’s high-fat, -salt and -sugar (HFSS) legislation next year.

Last month, the government pushed back the implementation date of the restrictions from April to October 2022, finalising plans for its anti-obesity strategy.

In line with the new law, some retailers will not be able to put products such as chocolate or cakes within checkout areas, or aisle ends of store entrances. Promotions such as multibuys will also be banned.

All stores below 2,000sq ft or with fewer than 50 employees will be exempt.

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However, symbol group stores that are 2,000sq ft or more will have to comply.

In preparation for HFSS, One Stop head of social responsibility and sustainability Liz Fox told Better Retailing the chain is conducting customer research and store trials to assess the potential impact of the restrictions.

“We will share a series of measures setting out best practice, including what type of product or promotion is (and isn’t) covered by the restrictions, how the physical restrictions affect the store layout and how best to meet customer expectations,” she said.

“We will be sharing the outcome of our trials with our franchisees in due course, followed by instore guides, PoS material and regular updates and on-site training through our business development managers.”

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Fox confirmed “an element of some re-fitting work” may be expected in affected stores.

“Now the regulations have been clarified, we will be in constant dialogue with our franchisees to help mitigate any confusion amongst themselves or their customers,” she added.

Bestway has increased support to its field teams to help stores. A spokesperson said: “We are seeking legal advice on the scope of the regulations around symbol groups, and once the government has published the guidance to accompany the regulations, we will be better placed to put a full package of support in place for those affected.”

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Spar UK retail director Ian Taylor said: “Since the initial legislation was released in December 2020, we have been providing our retailers with advice on what it means to them and how the legislation could affect their stores.

“Now the legislation has been released, we will continue to provide advice to our retailers in conjunction with the ACS. We have a number of HFSS-compliant initiatives on trial in stores so we can understand what effect the new legislation will have.”

A Booker spokesperson confirmed the group would be working closely with its retailers as the government legislation changes.

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