Steve and Jassy Dhinsa, of VG’s Foodstore in Durham

Retailers were given the opportunity to understand how they could boost sales by adopting Premier’s smaller-format concept at The Fed’s annual conference.

Speaking at the two-day event last month, Damian Sanderson, head of retail at Booker Group, explained how the new format has more than doubled weekly sales in some stores.

“We’ve taken all of the best bits from Premier’s large format and brought it into a smaller footprint. It gives an opportunity to grow sales and profits by giving these retailers a full convenience solution, so they have a competitive edge,” said Sanderson.

He used two retailers who have benefitted from adopting the format as an example.

Fed members Steve and Jassy Dhinsa, of VG’s Foodstore in Durham, have grown sales from £8,000 a week to £25,000 since they converted their 600sq ft shop in January.

The store’s overall margin has risen from 18% to more than 28%.

The format has also been introduced in the 500sq ft Blackhall Late Store in Edinburgh, where owner Andrew Robertson has seen a weekly sales increase of £5,000 to £11,000.

Speaking about the size of the opportunity, Sanderson added: “There are 17,000 unaffiliated independent stores, and 56% of those are under 1,000sq ft.”

The concept was widely welcomed by retailers at the conference, but The Fed’s Welsh district president, Vince Malone, questioned Sanderson on how Booker planned to manage increased wastage given the format’s expanded space for chilled produce.

Sanderson replied: “We’ve brought in longlife chilled products to minimise wastage. We’re also training retailers to support them on managing fresh wastage.”

Delegates also challenged Sanderson on Booker’s introduction of delivery fees.

From February, a fee of £29.95 was added to each delivery for Premier and Family Shopper retailers regardless of order size.

“I’ve had to cut down to one delivery because of the delivery fee,” said Linda Sood, from the South East district. “There are the margins there to deliver to us without the charge.”

However, Sanderson said the delivery fee had to be implemented to tackle rising costs.

The Premier small format was unveiled to the market in January 2022 and is available to any stores between 350sq ft and 800sq ft.

It includes increased chilled space of around five metres, as well as a food-to-go offer and the Refresh@Premier drinks-to-go station. It can also house a Post Office, parcel services, Lottery and cash withdrawal.

The concept includes a vaping range and products such as US confectionery and snacks, with the format fully supported by Premier promotions.

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