A new format of convenience store is on the rise as pubs look to make grocery store offerings added under the coronavirus lockdown a permanent element of their businesses.

In March, online services such as Mypubshop were set up to help on-trade outlets offset the impact of forced bar closures by selling core convenience products in pubs and through click & collect and home delivery.

Mypubshop received support from Brakes, Bestway, Costcutter, Coca-Cola European Partners and Budweiser.

Founder Sam Ulph told betterRetailing the service was to wind down last week, as pub reopenings caused a “tail-off” in hospitality businesses active on the site.

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However, when asked by betterRetailing, pubs using the scheme vowed to continue running their newly founded grocery stores beyond lockdown.

Craig Holmes, of The Beambridge Inn in Somerset, revealed: “We were providing toilet rolls, baked beans and hand sanitiser, as they were unavailable in supermarkets and convenience stores. We now have 260 lines as part of an additional revenue stream for the longer term.

“People stuck with us and we have altered the business where one-third of it is now a shop. Some come in for a meal, then shop in the grocery side. We are considering planning applications for a purpose-built shop.”

Explaining how convenience stores can see similar success, Holmes added: “The environment of a smaller local shop suited the elderly and vulnerable who didn’t want to travel to a supermarket in their nearest town.

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“Our offer is focused on supporting local independent suppliers.”

Helen Lawrence, of The King’s Head Cacklebury in East Sussex, added: “We’re going to lose a few revenue streams, such as our music festival, so keeping our online pub shop open will help compensate.

“We’re working with local wholesalers for fresh meat, eggs, flour and produce. Our customers don’t want to go to a supermarket or they prefer the freshness of our products. I wouldn’t say we’re a competitor to our nearest convenience store, though.

“We don’t offer newspapers or magazines because the nearest shop already does that, and our products are more expensive.”

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Lucy Mawdsley, of The Hartington in Brighton, said: “We used the service to help the community rather than make money, and we’ll continue because a lot of elderly people still aren’t sure about supermarkets.

“I wouldn’t say we are competing directly with convenience stores because I’m using a hospitality wholesaler, so my range isn’t as large.”

Brakes said it would continue to support pubs offering a grocery store service. Convenience chain Simply Fresh also launched a scheme last week to encourage pubs and restaurants to add convenience store elements to their businesses.



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