IAA23 Category Star for Innovation: The Old Dairy – Pydar Stores, Truro

Judith and Roger Smitham of The Old Dairy - Pydar Stores, Truro, discuss what Innovation means to them

How important is Innovation to your business and why?

It’s very important – there’s so much competition in the sector. The hot food area, which is where we put most of our innovation, is what’s given us a 26% margin, which means we can then ringfence more money in the store.

What three things have you done in the last 12 months that set you apart in Innovation?

  1. We’ve increased the amount of hot food we sell; we cook a number of basic meals from scratch which have proven very popular. By doing that, we’ve got a cook in the kitchen now rather than a member of staff just doing bake-off.
  2. We’ve produced a leaflet to promote our outside catering. We’re sending out buffets regularly – about three a week – we have a standing order to send sausage rolls to Truro Rugby Club every Sunday and we’re sending out an enormous amount of food every week. We sent 8,000 sausage rolls out last year.
  3. We’re preparing an extensive menu which is going out on Facebook and we’re looking to get a website. People will be able to go online and order food.

What’s the biggest trend or challenge you’ve adapted to in the last 12 months?

We’ve been making sure we maintain a healthy margin with our outside catering; the increase in costs means you’ve got to be careful about where you pitch your prices. For example, when we first started our takeaway roast, they were priced around £5; now they have to be around £8.

What’s the biggest and best change you’ve made in your business in the last 12 months and why?

We’re taking a good amount every week through a healthy food-to-go offering; in the past year we’ve taken £216,000 in the kitchen alone. We’ve worked with local suppliers and because of our loyalty and the fact we’re here every day all year they’ve looked after us – we’re not so seasonal as the coastal towns. We try and build relationships with everybody and we bring the best out of everybody.

What have you done to retain shoppers in the last 12 months?

We try to do everything to the best of our ability, from the flowers outside the front door to offering a store with low-level shelving and wide aisles. People can see what we’re cooking and prepping from the other side of the counter. We communicate with all our customers, my husband and I are out on the shop floor, everybody’s friendly. We’re trying to keep things fresh all the time too – we’re looking at milkshake brand Shmoo and organising tastings.

Who would you recommend retailers to turn to if they’re looking to improve Innovation?

Local suppliers are a good start and Booker is very good – its catering division is great and produces a really good guide. A lot of us have an interest in cooking and we’re building our team, which is now six people. We’ve recently taken on some people who have come from a Mexican/Indian fusion background and we are always willing to listen to staff and try new things.

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