When Avtar and Sukhi Sidhu invited me to visit their Simply Fresh store in Kenilworth saying that they would like me to experience the before and after of changes they were making, I was intrigued.
The doors of their new store opened last October, and the recent Retail Newsagent profile told me they had made a great start.
When I arrived, I could immediately see a lot that is right about the store. Talking to Avtar and Sukhi gave me an insight into their passion for neighbourhood retailing and their wish to deliver a store that meets their customers’ needs.
As we walked around the sales floor, Avtar explained that they knew when they opened that the store’s design, layout and range were not the end of the project, but the beginning. The key element missing from the planning that went into the initial plan was how the customers would use it and the sales data.
With more than six months of talking to customers and gaining a meaningful amount of scanning data Avtar and Sukhi could see four areas of opportunity for change and further investment.
Front of the store
At different times of the day customers shop for different reasons. Avtar explained that they will change the display in their new chilled display unit twice daily. For the first half of the day the focus will be on morning and lunch. From mid-afternoon the merchandising will emphasis their food for tonight/later offer.
Food to go
They already have an in-store kitchen and servery that was part of the launch investment and are now looking to up their game with this space. The options that they are looking at are to buy in to a ready-made franchise solution or to develop their own offer.
The near counter and queuing area
This is probably the least focused area of the sales floor at the moment. The solution that they are working on is to invest in a narrow footprint row of island racking and display bulk promotional lines on one side and impulse lines on the other.
Beers, Wines and Spirits
The scanning data has revealed that there is an opportunity to improve the focus on the alcohol category. The plan is to increase the space used for this area of the business and develop the range. This includes growing the spirits range and moving it to an open display. The beers and cider range will also be expanded with an emphasis on local/regional producers. They also intend to investigate fine wines to extend the price range and choice.
Avtar and Sukhi expect to have these changes completed by the autumn, so I will report back on their progress after my next visit.