How important is Innovation to your business and why?
It must be one of the most important parts of the business because it’s the thing that creates excitement. If I was to do the same thing every day it would become mundane, it’s what gives me wings. If I can create something exciting and share it with the customer, that’s going to be a good bedding ground for them to get more involved. It just brings excitement and it’s a journey you go on.
What three things have you done since June 2021 that set you apart in Innovation?
- Flour was a big thing over Covid-19, and we thought we could use it to create the dough for pastry for mum’s samosas, we’ve got potatoes, onions, spices at home or in store, that led to those selling, we’ve sold more than 20,000 since lockdown.
- We found people were starting to say they were fed up of cooking from home, they were missing the experience of office eating out, that’s when we decided to do a lunch offer of wings, goujons and chicken burgers.
- Where the muffin didn’t work as well, we have a product in-store called a potato flake roll from Delice de France. A muffin goes dry and crusty if it holds for too long in a hot cabinet, but the potato roll holds the moisture for longer.
What’s the biggest trend or challenge you’ve adapted to (besides Covid-19) in Innovation since 2021?
One trend was slushies. I had SnowShock and now have an Ugolini machine with a magnetic drive in it. we’ve started doing alcoholic ones. With our F’real machine I was able to get their catering offer, which is basically a blender which blends at -18 degrees, so I can keep those pots in a regular freezer.
What’s the biggest and best change you’ve made in your business in Innovation since June 2021 and why?
Upgrading my back prep area by about 10sq ft and making it more appealing to showcase. We’ve got the walls covered in a composite aluminium with a plastic coating so it’s a good easy clean down. I needed to show a professional feel about my prep area, if I was going to take a consumer back in there to trial something, they need to feel comfortable.
What have you done when thinking of Innovation to retain shoppers since June 2021?
We have two till points, one for the customer who wants to come in and out quickly, which has an impulse nature to its location. If someone comes in for a service, we get them to go around the store and come round to till point 2. While they do that, we’re bringing fresh products out. A lady was waiting to process her parcel, smelled and saw our hot food and ended up spending £13, having not realised before that we did that stuff.
Who would you recommend retailers turn to if they’re looking to improve Innovation?
The best in the field, the IAA finalists. Look at trade press, that’s how I started to evolve. I wanted to create some confidence in my community and it came from trade press, which is what was available. Now there’s B2B and peer-to-peer inspiration.