Footwear chain Payless ShoeSource has launched a new store format called 'Fashion Lab', which it claims is an upmarket venture selling at value prices.

Payless has opened six Fashion Labs in locations including New York City's Fifth Avenue and the Mall of America, Minneapolis,

The company plans four more stores under the format by the end of the year.

CEO and president Matt Rubel said: "Today's shoppers believe that in order to get fashion and value they have to give up the experience and shop at the traditional 'big box' retailers, but with our new fashion lab store format, shoppers can truly get it all - great fashion, amazing value and a fun shopping experience."

"We've been working hard on many fronts to achieve our new business direction and our store redesign effort is a critical step in rounding out the new Payless brand promise for shoppers."

The stores were also designed to fit how women - the company's main target - like to shop, said Payless.

Payless said a second new store design dubbed 'hot zone' is also part of the store renovation program. While the Payless Fashion Lab store format is a complete redesign, 'hot zone' stores feature a new front-of-store layout leveraged from the Fashion Lab design that is married with the core store format.

By the end of 2006, Payless will revamp 5% of its store chain with a total of ten fashion lab stores and about 240 hot zone stores.