Congratulations to the Retail Newsagent on reaching 125 years in publication, an amazing feat. I asked Graham Hales of Locks Newsagents in Cosham as his family business celebrated its 120 anniversary earlier this year for his thoughts about the future of our retail channel.

Graham said: “In the 50 plus years that I have worked in the business, who the customers are and how they use the store has been the biggest change. In the 1960s most customers worked in the dock yard and went to and from there on bikes. Today, many of my customers are commuters and office workers. Magazines are more important to my business than newspapers; they are easier to read on a train journey.

“While we do have a dairy chiller cabinet and stock a range of convenience grocery lines, Locks remains a CTN at heart because that is the right format for its location next to a main line railway station. There isn’t a one size fits all convenience store format. Each store needs to reflect its location and customer base. But success will only happen with a consistent and ruthless focus on what is working and what is not and that needs a sales budget and data.

“That said the winners over the next 5 years will be the retailers who do the basics right, customer service, stocking the right products, employing and training great people, marketing and community service and engagement.”