Following in the footsteps of a retailer recognised by the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) as a former ‘best shop’ is a big task, but one that Jodi Pritchard is taking in her stride.
After working alongside Dave Hiscutt, the brains behind IAA’s 2017 Overall Best Shop, Londis Westham Road, she moved over to take the helm of Londis Stour Road.
Situated on a main road, with nearby housing and secondary school, she caters for her mixed demographics with a core convenience range, American drinks and confectionery and a new free-from section.
“Before we took over this shop it had been neglected for years, and I wanted to bring it up to a standard whereby people wanted to come and shop here,” she says. “The school nearby means that we have children coming in who know what’s on trend and we have a suggestion book behind the till.”
The formula is working. Last year, the store ranked as a finalist in the IAA’s Effective Ranging category. The team make sure they keep their range tight by having a six-week policy for new listings. “We’ve become much more ruthless. If I get a product in and after six weeks it’s
not shifting, it gets delisted,” she explains.
This rule has required Jodi to make some bold decisions. “We’ve had to make decisions around the sugar tax. Making the choice to cut down on Coca-Cola and range with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has meant being ruthless,” she explains. Slow-selling biscuits were also removed in favour of free-from products and the shop’s magazine range was limited to just one metre of space.
Cutting down on range has meant opening up to new opportunities. Healthier options have been introduced in confectionery, with brands such as Graze taking up prime retail space on the front counter.
“Customers were also asking about different kinds of milks, so I brought in a range of Cravendale milks and have worked on getting the range right,” she explains.
Jodi has made some great steps with her ranging – her focus for this year is to make the same level of improvements to her availability, especially in their free-from, vegan and vegetarian sections.
“Many of the products in that range are expensive and I’m working on more affordable suppliers and then maintaining availability and consistency within our range,” she says.
Improvements will also be guided by benchmarking with the IAA, which Jodi has used to identify new procedures to put in place and new opportunities to consider.
“Benchmarking brought everyone together as a team,” she says. “It’s definitely worth doing; it makes you far more aware of all the finer details of your store, in terms of ranging to suit your customers to bring your store up to standard.”