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When the Co-op opened a new store with a wealth of car parking, Broughton retailer Fran Pearcy feared the worst. But by innovating, working closely with Today’s and Nisa and offering great value, she’s gone from strength to strength. Tim Murray reports
When the Co-op opened a brand spanking new convenience store near to Pearcys Today’s in in Broughton, North Lincolnshire, things looked pretty grim.
Takings and footfall at the store plummeted and owner Fran Pearcy feared she’d have to pull down the shutters on the business she ran with her husband Earnie.
“There was a Co-op here already, but it was an old shop,” she recalls. “They built a brand new one in a car park of an old pub, with plenty of parking, a lovely, brand new purpose-built store.”
It had an almost immediate effect, as she notes: “We took a hit for about six months.”
It wasn’t necessarily pricing or range that was the problem, but convenience. The Today’s store was at a busy crossroads, with a lack of parking hampering its prospects.
The rival store had plenty of space for customers to park and do their shopping, seemingly giving it an edge.
But Fran and her team turned things round, taking advice from both Today’s and Nisa, and playing to their strengths.
“We worked hard pushing our loyalty card, we did a lot of offers and we sent leaflets out to everyone in the village,” she explains.
Other innovations included a cash machine and parcels, for, as Fran says: “We do whatever we can to get footfall in the store.”
The Pearcys knew that once in there, they could easily brush the competition aside. “We’re a lot cheaper than the Co-op, it’s quite an expensive store. If we can get the customers in, then we’re on to a winner.”
But more needed to be done to negate the location issues: “We’re on the corner of a busy junction, with double yellow lines, they’ve got a car park.”
It was about what they could offer to their potential customers to make up for the store’s location and difficulty in parking. If they got extra benefits from Today’s Pearcys, then, Fran believed, customers would be prepared to put up with any issues of parking.
Customer service is one of their key tenets. “We give a real personal service,” she says. “We go the extra mile for our customers. We know all of them and we try and accommodate them all.”
There’s no formal delivery service, but they will help out wherever possible. “We’ll drop things off for regulars, deliver things for them. Everyone I employ is local, they’re all from the village. It’s a very friendly place and we always have time to chat to our customers.”
We got on board with Today’s and we’ve worked very closely with them. It’s made life a lot easier.
We got on board with Today’s and we’ve worked very closely with them. It’s made life a lot easier
Nisa’s helped improve the store too, which also helped them to fight off the rival’s challenge.
“They sent a team in,” she explains. “We swapped things around in the store, made it a lot easier to shop and move around.
“It’s made life a lot easier. We can now get smaller case sizes and amounts, which mean less waste. We’ve also been shown some of the best lines to stock.”
Which categories, then, have performed best under this new regime for Today’s Pearcys? The new chilled section has increased sales and, as Fran adds: “We do well across the board with alcohol.”
She believes much of this is about getting the balance right. “Most of our wines are not pricemarked, but we have a good range of offers which Today’s help us with, and it’s the same with beer.
“We try and get a balance, you can’t have pricemarks everywhere. We stock a lot of different beers, including bottled and specialist ones.”
And what’s been the result of all this hard work and store development? Not only has business soared, but the Pearcys capped the turnaround by scooping the Symbol Group Retailer of the Year gong at this year’s Today’s Group Awards.
It was the icing on the cake, Fran says. “It was great to win it and it was a vindication of everything we’ve done here. We’re really pleased with it.”
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