Independent retailers who have made their debut as finalists in the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) told RN their stores have benefited “significantly” from the business development programme.
The 34 finalists – 21 of whom have made the final round for the first time – across 12 categories were announced at the Local Shop Summit (LSS) in London on Wednesday.
Weekly sales for new finalist Shelley Goel, of One Stop Gospel Lane in Birmingham, have doubled to more than £8,000 as a result of signing up to the IAA.
“I hadn’t considered the impact of store presentation – from having pastries by our coffee machine to cleaning windows – on sales before taking part in the IAA,” said Mr Goel.
“Customers have definitely noticed. They talk about how much more comfortable it is and we now sell lots more coffee. I want to increase sales further to £12,000 with the lessons from the IAA.”
Another first-time finalist, Sue Nithyanandan, of Costcutter in Epsom, said the IAA has helped her develop staff communication. “I’ve started taking more staff feedback as a result of the IAA and it’s had a significant impact,” she said.
“I discovered my 15 employees all wanted to become champions of different areas of the store. Alcohol, soft drink and chilled sales have all increased by 5% because customers are getting such an improved and more personalised service.”
Meanwhile, Julie Atkinson, of Hollins Green Community Store, added: “The IAA has definitely taught me about having a wider range. We have more fruit gins in the store and we get through 35 bottles of ale from the local Dunham Massey brewery every month.”
Samantha Gunston, who heads up the IAA, said: “The IAA finalists represent excellence and to see the impact on sales is incredible. At the Gala Dinner in November, top retailers will share what makes a great local shop and we will celebrate the stars who are driving our industry forward.