‘Don’t try to beat them at their own game’

Budding retailer Jack Matthews speaks to Retail Express about how his family's store has stayed popular in the midst of growing competition.

Bradley’s Supermarket in Quorn has been in Jack Matthews’ family for generations; the store was founded by his great-great grandfather in 1921, and has been in his father’s hands since 2008.

Seventeen-year-old Jack, who is studying at a local college, is currently learning to run the business.

Until two years ago, Bradley’s Supermarkets was the only shop in the village. That all changed when the Co-op opened its first premium convenience store 500 metres away, and two weeks ago, Waitrose opened an 8,500sq ft store – the largest Little Waitrose in the country – a mile away. However, these new-found rivals haven’t phased Jack.

“It’s a bit of a novelty, then people go back to old habits,” he says. “As much as Waitrose is very nice, it’s not the cheapest of places.”

Jack believes that his store’s reputation contributes to its success in the face of the competition.

“Everyone knows our store,” he says. “Not just because it’s been here for so long, but because we’re heavily involved in the community.”

Bradley’s Supermarkets

Location: Quorn, Leicestershire

Hours: 6am-9pm Mon-Fri, 6am-8pm Sat, 6am-6pm Sun

Trading since: 2008 under Jack’s father, Paul Matthews, but it has been in the family since 1921

Staff: 56 in total, 32 in this store

Size: 2,600sq ft

Style: A family-run convenience store in a village parade. A new Waitrose is located a mile away, and there are five Co-ops in a five-mile radius.

With the help of Nisa, Bradley’s Supermarkets sponsors the local cricket and football clubs. The store also donates stock to community events, such as the annual Santa’s Grotto and a charity bike ride.

“We’re also looking at doing a summer food fair with local suppliers,” Jack says. “You have to give a little to get something back.”

Jack and his father, Paul, are striving to combine innovation with tradition. The store began as a greengrocer and has expanded several times since then, but they still get a fruit and veg delivery from Leicester market six days a week.

Jack says he’d like to expand the two-shop business, but is cautious of having quantity over quality.

“I’m more of a believer in having three strong shops than 27 average ones,” he says.

“It can be a challenge to pay attention locally, and having multiple stores would add to the difficulties of getting to know your community. I think that having one good shop makes retailers successful in their personal careers.”

A key lesson Jack has learnt is the importance of identity, which ties into his mantra of growing stores alongside their community.

While Bradley’s Supermarkets has always done this by providing shoppers with locally-sourced produce, Jack has already made changes, including introducing artisan ice cream and a new brand of pet food – a contact Jack made while doing work experience at Dorset retailer Dike & Son.

They’ve also overhauled their food to go, changing from a simple deli counter to selling hot pastries, cheeseburgers, sandwiches and chips. A slush machine was also installed in time for summer, selling 420 cups in its first week.

“Be different,” Jack advises. “When competition opens, don’t try to beat them at their own game – especially when that competition is a huge multiple. Do what you know you’re good at.”



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