‘Spending money is vital if you want to stay in the market’

Retail Express takes an exclusive look at the first store in the UK to open under A F Blakemore's new premium Bmorelocal fascia.

Pardeep and Randeep Sakaria understand the importance of moving forward.

Ten years ago, the brothers took over running BK Stores, which has been in their family for 30 years, and have recently carried out two major overhauls.

A year and a half ago, the store underwent a large refit, and in June this year, it was transformed from a Lifestyle Express into the first store to operate under AF Blakemore’s new Bmorelocal fascia.

“The new fascia feels more professional to us,” Pardeep says. “It took a few weeks of solid work to get the shop up to Bmorelocal’s standards.”

Pardeep, who has worked in the store since he was 17, says more people now pick up a basket when they come in. “We’ve changed how people shop,” he adds.

He says one in three shoppers now purchase a basketful of shopping – despite the store’s range remaining the same. “The biggest change under the new fascia is the layout,” he explains. “It’s simple things that have made a huge change. When people come in, the baskets are immediately visible.”

Prior to opening under the Bmorelocal fascia, Blakemore remerchandised the entire store.

“They knew exactly what we needed to do to increase footfall and purchases,” Pardeep says. “For example, they moved the soft drinks and the crisps so that people would notice them both at the same time. Our shoppers are already getting used to where everything is.”

Promotion bays were added, which stand at the end of each aisle.

“It’s another method to keep people buying right up until they reach the till,” Pardeep says. He adds that they  have changed their ‘value’ section to a ‘promotion’ shelf, stocked with items priced at £1.

The store gets very little passing trade, so a huge motivation for the original refit was to ensure they retained the locals’ loyalty – especially when competition opened up.

“A couple of years ago there was talk in town that Tesco and Aldi would be opening stores nearby,” Pardeeps says. “At the time, we thought the worst thing that could happen would be an Aldi opening.”

While the Tesco store never opened, Aldi did move into a store close by.

“We had to do something – we couldn’t stay still,” Pardeep says. “That’s why we had our first refit done.”

With the initial refit, they began selling freshly-cooked hotdogs, which went so well they recently added burgers to the offering.

Food to go is at the centre of their plans, with Pardeep saying the category as a whole is “incredibly important”. A burger and hot drink deal hasn’t been as successful as they’d hoped, so they are designing a different offer.

“We’re also looking to bring in new hot food and a Slush Puppie machine,” Pardeep says.

“You’ve got to invest. Rundown stores are slowly being pushed out by the supermarkets and discounters – those who don’t work on their stores are going to go. Investment is vital if you want to stay in the market.”


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