Keifer Shea-Godden invested in premium gin and boosted his sales

Eighteen months after Keifer Shea-Godden took over a once run-down newsagent in Newport, South Wales, the store is a thriving heart of the community.

Eighteen months after Keifer Shea-Godden took over a once run-down newsagent in Newport, South Wales, the store is a thriving heart of the community. 

“I wanted to reopen something in the area, especially because there is so much footfall passing by. It was a wasted space, otherwise,” he says.

One of the main challenges Keifer first addressed was the design and layout. After initially being quoted £40,000 for renovation, he decided to take matters into his own hands, which saved him more than £15,000.

“I built the counter myself and helped lay out the flooring. I also had a local trader come in and fit the fridges for us. The savings we made helped us invest in a wider range of products and allowed us to have better availability as a result,” he explains. 

To help get word out about the new store, Keifer says he ran an advert in the local newspaper alongside taking tips from the Post Office, which helped him with social media management. 

“We had a post office fitted in March, and I’m hoping with the holidays around the corner, we’ll gain some additional footfall. Social media has become really important to us when getting the message out quickly – it beats me making flyers and handing them out by hand,” he says.

But retail crime, an issue that all retailers have probably faced, continues to be the biggest challenge for his business. 

“Theft is getting worse. Only yesterday we had someone steal laundry tabs that were by the counter. We put them there because we were running a promotion on them. That cost us £40 altogether,” he says. But Keifer is fighting back and has installed safety caps on his wine and spirits bottles that can be removed at the till, which has led to a reduction in theft. 

Premium spirits, in particular, is one of the biggest opportunities he has identified for his business. 

“We extended our alcohol range after attending the Premium Spirits panel at this year’s Local Shop Summit in Twickenham. “I hadn’t realised how important the category was until I brought in lines such as Beefeater Gin, Gordon’s Pink Gin and Hendrick’s,” he says.

“As a consequence, I benefitted from an increase in sales of premium tonic waters. I find people are happy to pay extra and trade up in mixers when they are offered a premium spirit – we’re now restocking every week. This is an area we were losing out on before.”

Alongside having an impressive range of spirits, Keifer says the rise in free-from diets and the demand for hot and cold coffee has also boosted profits this year.

“We stock Alpro Soya Milk and a range of cold, nitro coffees, alongside having a machine. We have a few dedicated customers who now come to us because we stock soya milk. Starbucks glass bottles are bestsellers for us in cold coffee. I recommend all independent retailers invest in this area,” he says. 

Top tips

Network as much as you can

“Talk to other retailers in the area and make sure to exchange tips and advice – don’t try and alienate them and make it too much of a competition. We’re all in this together,” Keifer says.

Build relationships with your customers

“Get to know your customers and their habits to ensure you maintain your edge over the supermarkets – they don’t know their customers as well as you do. Building relationships is so important,” he explains. 

Know the latest food and drink trends

Keifer has recently invested in trends such as gluten-free and dairy-free. “We have found that there is a big demand for it in our area, and even stocking a few lines makes the biggest difference,” he says. 

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