Is there room to be entrepreneurial in a franchise store, I asked the panel in my session on supply-side partnerships at last Monday’s Local Shop Summit.

I gave the example of Peterborough-based Nisa retailer Jamie Keshwara, whose food to go, sandwich counter and pizza oven would prohibit him joining One Stop, which is aiming for standardisation. They would have to be within his 5% buying allowance, replied franchise boss Andrew King.

Three days later, I witnessed how a store can thrive under tight rules when I spent a day working in a 4,500sq ft Budgens store.

It is one of four owned by Thames Valley businessman Karim Rashid, and runs like a well-oiled machine by a manager, two assistants and 40 staff with very specific roles and an enormous list of processes.

On the face of it, there is little room for innovation in a store like this. They are told what is on promotion, aisle ends are called “allocation” areas because they are laid out to planograms and mystery shopped by Musgrave, and they are told by “head office” which suppliers are doing tastings in store.

Gemma averages around eight orders a day from elderly shoppers, most around £30 but some up to £100, delivered on the same day.

But look around and there is innovation everywhere. My favourite example was the home shopping service, managed by Gemma. She averages around eight orders a day from elderly shoppers, most around £30 but some up to £100, delivered on the same day.

Not only does her knowledge of her regulars’ preferences allow her to offer an incredibly personalised, bespoke service, but it also makes her shop the store like a customer and see what works and what could be better.

You can read more about the lessons I learned, as well as the whole RN team’s experience in readers’ stores, in the 7 November issue.

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