Three retailers share their best business decisions

The Better Retailing team finds out what retailers think their best business decision in recent years has been and how they implemented it

Grocery shelves aisle categories

Dan Brown

Lothian Stores, Musselburgh, East Lothian

“If I had to pick one, it would be the introduction of our kitchen concept. We’ve always tried to have quite a strong chilled and fresh offer because we think it’s one of the things that brings people in.

“The kitchen has added something to our store – the margins are great, it’s a point of difference and the customers seem to like it. It’s also very dynamic; we can change what we’re selling very quickly. And it’s also provided additional sales channels through the delivery service that we now offer. I would say it’s been the driving force of our success.

“It was relatively simple because we did it in different stages. It’s quite modular, really – you start small with a coffee machine and some pastries and rolls, and from there you can go quite big. As long as you’re focusing on standards and margins, it’s definitely worth the challenge.”

Terry Mulkerns

Mulkerns Eurospar, Newry, County Armagh

“One of the big ones would be investments in electronic shelf-edge labels. The impact on the bottom line has been about 1% and you’d go a long way to find that. It means that the staff and managers have more time to do value-added stuff and improve our overall offer. It’s been a huge upfront cost, but it’s freeing up staff. Usually the managers have to run around changing the prices because often if we give junior staff the task, it doesn’t get done or it gets done incorrectly, so managers have to do it themselves. That means they’re running around doing compliance and not the stuff you want them to do.

“The other big thing we introduced was automatic stock replenishment, which reduces your stock levels while increasing availability and rationalising your lines. It’s changed our whole operational model for the better, and means we can operate with fewer staff.”

Dipak Shah

H&R News, Camberley, Surrey

“The main thing we’ve done is introduced various products that we arranged through the rep at Imperial Tobacco. The rep comes in with special products and they give us a discount on the day. That means it’s cheaper than anywhere else in the country. It’s meant that our tobacco from them is cheaper than it is in the supermarket.

“People are now aware of this offer and it’s had a big impact on our sales and footfall because people know we have the cheapest tobacco on certain brands in the area. The shop is busier now and people who come in to buy cigarettes are also buying other stuff as well.

“We’ve also started making sure that when new products come to market, we’re the first ones to have it available in the shop. And with prices going up, having 60-70% of our stock price-marked means customers know they get a good deal.”

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