The first Costcutter-Wine Rack combo has opened its doors, combining convenience, food to go and specialist off-trade services.
The 2,000sq ft store in Bramley, Surrey owned by Bestway was previously run under the firm’s Bargain Booze Select model until it reopened on 9 December. It now features an extensive Co-op branded fresh range, fresh flowers, Smokin’ Bean coffee, Tango Ice Blast, a heated pastry unit, a bake-at-home branded pastry freezer, Cook ready meals, a cigar humidor, an ale refill station, a wine tasting and breakfast bench, freshly baked goods, a Post Office, an iSqueeze orange juice machine and a huge selection of wines, beers and spirits.
Speaking to Better Retailing at the store on launch day, regional manager Tom Donovan explained why the village store was chosen as the first site. He stated: “‘It felt the right thing to do in the upmarket location this store sits in. The Costcutter brand, Nisa supplied range and Wine Rack speciality allows us to provide a really enhanced offering. We’ve got over 40 champagnes, including prosecco that’s’ over 70. Waitrose only has five or six Champagne variants, so it’s a truly leading offer.
“In Convenience, it’s really focused on fresh, bakery and meal solutions. The idea is you can come here and do a full shop that’s normally take visiting three or four locations.”
Customer feedback suggested the design is set to achieve this aim. “I’m never going to need to leave Bramley again,” said one shopper.
While the store is centrally-owned by Bestway, Donovan said independent stores will also be offered the format, stating: “We launched the Costcutter combined with Bargain Booze format a couple years ago which went really well for us, now we’re looking at the Costcutter Wine Rack model and I’m sure that’ll get put into the independent world. But we also have 150-155 company owned stores scattered across the UK, a lot in similar demographics to this, so if this works well for us we can lift and drop into those other locations.”
The store is approximately split in thirds, the first, closest to the door, is the convenience offer – grocery, bakery and newstrade products. The second middle section is food to go and the third, on the right side of the store is impulse, beers, wines and spirits. The counter sits in the middle of the store, allowing staff to interact with customers. Unlike in most theft-wary convenience models, The store sites many of its ultra-premium wines and spirits on the shop floor. Asked about the decision, Donovan said: “In our Wine Rack proposition, our spirits and our wines are on the shop floor, that’s our offer. That’s our blueprint… Once it gets to a certain value we are using wooden wine boxes instead of the bottles, and we keep the bottles chilled out back.”
Local brands and refills
The site offers a fill-your-own jug ale station, allowing customers to buy fresh, locally brewed lines. Regional manager Tom Donovan explains: “Casks are going to be tapped very shortly and then they’ll be self-serve for customers. The casks are from around four miles away so we’re working with local brewery and local suppliers. There’s Denbies Wine Estate, Silent Pool gin and the casks. Elsewhere there’s a local bakery coming in today as well.
In-store events and breakfast bar
The front of the store features a window table and seats, which Donavan describes as a ‘tasting table’. He explains: “We’re doing tasting events and wine talks over Christmas and the New Year, we’ve got specialists in other Wine Rack stores, so in the evenings we’ll have those on-trade events, but there will also be others from Country Choice on baking and Humidor doing a cigar talk.”
The store features five double-door beer chillers with one dedicated to craft, three double-door chillers of white and sparkling wine, a freestanding island containing five meter bays of spirits and five meters of red wine and premium champagnes. The regional manager says: “We moved the counter to the store centre to really be able to help shoppers. We upskilled the team with a wine training course with Bibendum and working in other Wine Racks. People want to pair it with meals, meats and occasions so the team really need to understand that.”
Top ideas for stores
- Shoppers with full arms or baskets are asked if they want a basket or trolley, helping to increase basket spend.
- Store uses direct to store and local suppliers to ‘put something quirky in every bay’
- Spirits and premium wines are on shelf but visible from the counter, using empty wooden wine boxes to mitigate theft. The bottles are kept chilled out back.
- A ‘bake at home’ branded chest freezer allows shoppers to buy the part-bake products cooked in store for home cooking
- Tasting notes and country of origin flags are present on shelf edge labels, helping shoppers pick the right wine
- Presence of premium options encourage customers opting for middle-tier wine to trade up
- The store makes up sandwiches on-site to enhance margins from its food to go proposition