A bottle returns machine installed in December has helped an independent convenience store achieve a 22% uplift in related sales.

The news follows the announcement of a new government consultation on building a UK-wide deposit return scheme (DRS). 

The machine at Mo Razzaq’s Family Shopper Blantyre store enables customers to return plastic bottles for a 10p voucher that can be spent at a dessert bar in the store or donated to charity. 

The unit was donated by RVM Systems as part of a six-month trial, the first of its kind in a convenience store in Scotland. 

Describing the partnership, Razzaq said: “They were impressed with my support for a DRS. This is a silver lining for retailers – it can boost footfall and bring more customers into your store.” 

An average of 71 bottles were returned each day during the first three weeks. Despite Christmas being a slower period for the store, Razzaq reported a 7% uplift in footfall, a 22% increase in dessert bar spending and a 20% overall sales uplift, though a range rationalisation also contributed to the overall uplift.

This month, discounter Iceland also hailed the success of a similar trial at five of its stores. 

Approximately 517 bottles were returned each day per store throughout its six- month trial, which is run with RVM Systems and rival machine suppliers Diebold Nixdorf. Morrisons and Co-op are also trialling RVMs.

So far, 20% of the vouchers redeemed at Family Shopper Blantyre were donated to charity by users, with the remaining £40 per week spent at the bar. “This is great for us because winter is usually a trickier time to make ice-cream sales,” said Razzaq. 

At the end of January, RVM Systems will be supplying Family Shopper with an updated machine that will also accept glass bottles. “This shows how much of an interest RVM is taking,” he added. 

RVM Systems’ vice- president, Steve Stothard, told RN: “Mo wanted to show his support for DRS pre-legislation and prove that an RVM can fit into a convenience store.

“We have worked for more than a decade in the UK. The system is future-proof and will increase footfall in the convenience store.”

Many shop owners and trade groups such as the Scottish Grocers Federation and ACS were opposed to the introduction of DRS, with financial viability and store space being the main concerns.

However, Razzaq stressed that store size shouldn’t be a concern. “I’ve been to Estonia, Norway and Sweden to see how they do it. There are smaller machines that can fit into most stores, but I understand it’s different for corner shops,” he said. “There is a facility for retailers to manually mark returned bottles and place them in a clear bag behind the counter.”

The trial is due to end on 14 June, but RVM Systems confirmed it is willing to work with other stores. “We would welcome the opportunity to work with small store holders pre-DRS,” said Stothard. 

Interested in taking part in any further trials by RVM Systems? Call RN on 020 7689 3357

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