Londis’ recommendations to replace visible tobacco gantries with craft alcohol and vaping trends in its new and refitted stores could significantly increase sales, but could also create security risks, retailers have said.

The symbol group’s brand director Martin Swadling told RN the strategy would help future-proof the company’s estate. “Tobacco is still important, but it’s declining and selling it from a big cupboard isn’t using space very well," he said.

“Getting rid of visible gantries won’t be policy, but it will be recommended to retailers and business development managers. You’re much more likely to upsell premium spirits in that space.”  

Mr Swadling added displays would include features such as backlit panels to draw attention.  “Tobacco price lists will be visible and we’ll recommend tobacco is placed behind the counter in drawers,” he said.

Raj Aggarwal, of Spar Wigston in Leicester, said weekly vape sales increased from £100 to £400 after he replaced his gantry with e-liquids. He told RN: “Traditional gantries aren’t relevant anymore because customers immediately ask for certain brands or the cheapest pack. Vaping is more profitable. We make between 25% to 40% margins.”

A retailer, who asked not to be named, said weekly alcohol sales grew by £1,600 when she replaced her gantry with craft gin this year. “There’s no future in tobacco gantries. Ours was replaced with 22 gin products and we added lights to make it more attractive. Alcohol sales rose immediately,” she said. 

However, Hitesh Pandya, of Toni’s News in Ramsgate, said it would be difficult to remove his gantry. “Vaping is a big trend, but you need the right knowledge and availability. Traditional gantries offer security and ease of access, and I’d need drawers to do the same.”

JTI head of communications Mark Yexley added: “By displaying tobacco prominently, smokers will be fully aware of the range available to them, avoiding the potential loss of customers and their associated basket spend.”

Read more: Londis cuts out visible tobacco gantries in plan for future shops