Location: Fromes Hill, Herefordshire
Size: 1,200sq ft
Trading since: 2016
A lifetime’s experience running a butcher’s shop still left Helen and Peter Rogers with a steep learning curve ahead of them when they opened Midway Convenience Store a year ago.
During their first 12 months trading they saw drastic changes in wage and tobacco legislation, as well as suffering a severe break-in within their first three months of trading. However, with early success and plans to grow the store, the couple are committed to convenience.
The decision to open the store came from spotting the site and instantly seeing the potential. “We saw the building available for rent and we knew the nearest convenience shop is around six miles in one direction and eight miles in the other direction,” Peter explains.
Their Midway store, which they opened with Lifestyle Express, is in an excellent location on the only major road directly connecting the cities of Worcester and Hereford. With a diverse audience of passing, local, school and evening trade, getting the ranging right was one of the first major challenges. Helen says: “When we first opened we spent a fortune filling the shop and it was a bit of pot luck because we didn’t know what people wanted. It took us three months to iron out problems with high wastage, get to know our customers and know what sells.”
Based on this knowledge, Helen and Peter invested in their fresh and grocery range with new chillers in order to make the most of evening meal shoppers. It included creating a range of local fresh meat from their butcher’s shop and increasing the number of chilled lines. “The shopper just wants to come in and not think about what they’re cooking,” says Helen. “We make sure our range makes it as easy as possible by supplying our customers with not just the components, but the ideas as well.”
The second challenge was ensuring compliance with legislation. The store was one of the first in the country to take part in the Lifestyle Learning Academy – an online tool that enables retailers and their staff to learn about key areas. “It’s been a great use because you can do it on your own time,” says Helen. Peter adds: “When I applied for my alcohol licence I had to take a two day course in Herefordshire. I passed and even came second in my class. However, when I did the alcohol and age compliance modules on the Lifestyle Learning Academy, I failed it the first time before passing on the second. It shows there’s more to know beyond the standard guidance to ensure compliance.”
The next focus for the couple is marketing. The store is taking a holistic approach, engaging with other nearby companies on social media to share audiences. It’s an approach that is soon to be trialed offline as well. Helen is organising a fun day over the August bank holiday outside their Midway store, designed to boost the profile of all eight businesses on the estate. She says: “We benefit from the other nearby businesses doing well as it boosts our footfall, too.
Keep your business safe
Peter says: “We got broken into and they took everything in the gantry. It changed how we approach security in store. We learned the hard way as our insurance shot up.”
Take your time
“My advice for new retailers like us is to be patient,” says Peter. “When you start it’s quite stressful. We’ve had our moments and it’s just about taking your time and trying different things.”
Look for alternate revenue streams
Helen says: “We’ve just started working with a mobile phone accessories company to provide SIM cards and accessories to our customers and it has been quite successful.”
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