Bhs has announced plans to introduce bake-off at its growing chain of upmarket in-store coffee lounges.

Retail director Tony Brown told British Baker that the department store chain currently has 13 Coffee Lounges in shops nationwide, after starting trials of the concept last summer.

It plans to open a further 40 concessions by Christmas, with all new outlets offering bake-off ranges, including breads and a variety of other baked products, Brown said. The 13 existing sites would later have a bake-off area installed, he said.

The company’s target is to build an estate of 130 Coffee Lounges in the next 18 months, he explained.

He said the Coffee Lounges, which sell a range including Fairtrade bean-to-cup coffee and sandwiches made in store, were proving very successful with customers.

He said: "The Coffee Lounge format has been a huge success, it makes more per square foot than merchadise does, although of course you would not have a 30,000 sq ft Coffee Lounge!"

Bhs worked closely with key suppliers for the format he added, including Churchills Handmade Sandwich Company, based in Nottingham.

The retailer created the new concept with its nine huge "home" interior furnishings megastores in mind, looking to operators such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks for inspiration.

But it then realised that the format could be introduced in its standard department stores. It has an estate of 185 stores nationwide.