Brothers Asmat and Usman Saleem’s third business is a purpose-built premium Costcutter store, which is focusing on big basket shops. Steven Lambert reports

With two successful Costcutter stores to their name, brothers Asmat and Usman Saleem and their dad, Mohammed, were looking to grow their retail estate even further with the launch of a third business.

Working with their symbol group, the family have completed work on their first premium-branded Costcutter store, which has opened in the village of Kelty in Fife.

The 2,500sq ft site has been “purpose-built” to serve the needs of the local community, which features an even mix of working class and affluent customers, according to Asmat.

“We knew the new site had potential but we wanted a fresh start, so we completely demolished the building and rebuilt it.”

He says: “We always intended to open another store. My Dad had held the property here for ages, which is located in the same village where we opened our first store 25 years ago.

“Where we’re located, we have working class families at the top of the hill and people who can afford to spend a bit more at the bottom, so we’ve tried to appeal to both sets with the new store.”

Asmat says adopting Costcutter’s premium black fascia and in-store merchandising strategy was the first step in encouraging residents to shop regularly at the store.

The next step was to introduce product ranges that would appeal to customers looking to do a big basket or trolley shop. Asmat says this was especially important due to competition from four other grocery stores on the high street and the presence of Aldi and Asda just a short bus ride away from his shop.

“The supermarkets are easy to get to in the next village, so we have focused on products that these kind of shoppers will be looking for, such as fresh fruit and veg, chilled food and beers, wines and spirits.

Asmat says the business features an impressive 15-metre run of chilled foods, including dairy, juices and cooked meats, and just under three metres of fresh produce, both of which are strategically placed near the front of the shop to entice passing trade.

food-to-go“We’re getting people who will follow the chilled section to back of the store and will pick up impulse items on their way back to the till.

“We’re capitalising on this by stocking ingredients for shoppers to create their own evening meals, whether it be Indian, Chinese or Mexican, and running meal deals, which have been successful so far.”

Asmat says these customers are also picking up alcohol to go with their meal, thanks to the store’s impressive range of more than 200 wines.

“We aim for an average price of £5.99 for a good bottle of wine such as Turner Road, and we seeing growing sales of prosecco.”

Food to go has also been a big draw for the store, with pies, pasties and other snacks displayed prominently in a glass-fronted cabinet near the main tills.

Asmat says: “We work with a local baker, Stuart’s, which has been around since the 1800s. They’re not the cheapest but the quality is there and they’re a name people recognise and are prepared to pay for. We will soon develop our food to go by adding filled rolls, baguettes and hot soups.”

Asmat says the hard work is already paying dividends, with weekly sales excluding services hitting £20,000.

“That was the target we set ourselves at an early stage, so to hit that at this time of year is encouraging. I think we’ll be looking at an extra £2,000 to £3,000 in the summer.

“It’s been a steep learning curve taking on our first premium store but we’re enjoying the challenge.”

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