Last year, John Green seized the opportunity to add a full convenience offer in the store he has run for 43 years.
Nine months on, chilled alcohol, fresh produce and some eye-catching novelty offers are all helping drive a 50% increase in turnover. Jennifer Hardwick reports
When John Green’s brother decided to retire from running his post office last year, John seized the opportunity to expand his offer and transform his traditional CTN into a fully-fledged convenience store.
Since carrying out a complete refit and joining Premier in the middle of last December, he has increased his turnover by 50%.
John’s aim was to maximise space after the closure of the post office meant his store could expand from 400sq ft to 540sq ft.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot but it meant we could make the central gondola much longer and our chilled unit bigger,” he says.
“I had been wanting to do a refit for a while, but it took the post office closing to give me enough space. Although it created great footfall, only about 60% of people who used it actually bought something in the shop as well, so it made sense to close it.”
John spent £35,000 on the refit after choosing to fully plan and carry it out himself, with a local carpenter employed for the external fittings.
As a result of adding key convenience categories and extending fridge space from 2m to 3.5m, John’s main sales growth this year has come from chilled and fresh produce and alcohol.
I felt Premier had a lot to offer. I stick to Booker’s RRPs and there is a good margin on that
He now offers 2m of chilled alcohol and an additional 2.5m of beers, wines and spirits. In addition, he sells 40 different craft beers and is now looking to add craft ales to the selection.
In the past two months, he has noticed an increase in customers coming in for a full shop, with basket spend regularly reaching £15. And in May, he extended opening hours from 7am to 9pm, rather than 8pm Monday to Saturday, to maximise the potential to catch local residents on their way home from work.
His choice to join Premier was motivated by a long-standing relationship with Booker. John had used its nearby cash and carry since taking over the shop 43 years ago, and worked on the launch of its Shop Local 2 Go promotional programme for independents in 2011.
“I felt Premier had a lot to offer. I stick to Booker’s RRPs and there is a good margin on that,” he says.
“We always make the most of their offers and promotions as well. We put the leaflets through peoples’ doors and put them out in the shop too. I also make sure staff know about them and talk to customers about our offers.”
John has also been using social media to attract more customers, with a particular focus on his expanded alcohol range. A recent Facebook post advertising a prosecco giveaway got 5,500 views.
At the moment, he is promoting a competition to win a Pimm’s hamper he has put together containing two bottles of Pimm’s along with a jug and cans of lemonade, with anyone either buying a bottle of Pimm’s or spending at least £25 in the store being entered into the draw.
“It’s an inexpensive way of promoting the category and I’ve definitely noticed the difference, particularly on a Friday night,” he says.
“People will come in on their way home from work and pick up a bottle of wine or some beers. It doesn’t seem like many people keep a stock at home, but prefer to top up as they go.”
Another great profit driver is a Snow-Shock slush machine which arrived in May. John now sells a minimum of 200 cups at £2 in a cold, quiet week, and up to 400 cups in a busy week.
Despite all of 2017’s success, John is making new plans for the store, including the installation of an in-store bakery oven in what is now a storage cupboard.
His advice to other retailers is to focus on developing a really strong core range, but to always keep an eye on how other retailers are being successful. “You have to keep up,” he says.
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