‘Simplicity is key’ – we catch up with Premier retailer Les Gilbert

Simplicity is the way forward, say Les and Margaret Gilbert, one year after their last visit from Retail Express.

How has your business changed in the past year?

We’ve opened a new store in Chard, and the shop fit has taught us some lessons for next time. We’re asking ourselves, “Do we need to sell all kinds of hot food that needs labelling and heating in different ways, or should we just stick to a core offering of pies and sausage rolls?”

Les and Margaret Gilbert

South Chard Stores


Have you reintroduced organic to your range?

No. We still have plenty of pasties and cider from local suppliers. But I think you need to be quite targeted with local produce. Price is the major driver, and everyone is expecting value.

How has the extreme weather of late affected trade?

Somerset was hit hard by the floods over the winter, and lots of rain is certainly not good for business. But the abundant sunshine we’ve had so far this spring has seen trade pick up, and only this morning we’ve had 14 trolleys of stock delivered, plus three pallet-loads from the stationers.

Do you still have a big presence online?

A year ago, we had 960 followers on Twitter. The number is now 1,922 and counting! We tweet all our promotions and have got involved in debates. A few people have come into the shop asking who tweets, so Twitter is obviously having an effect. The only problem with this is that it’s hard to measure just how effective it is.

Follow the Gilberts on Twitter: @SouthChardStore


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