Changing the face of a store and increasing weekly turnover by 40% is no mean feat, but resting on their laurels has never come naturally to Simon and Coralyn Routledge.

After taking over the store in 1997, the couple traded as a newsagents for three years before joining Mace and becoming a convenience store. “I think you’ve got to move forward in this game, you have to develop the store when you can,” explains Simon.

The store changed again in February this year, increasing from 600sq ft to 1,000sq ft under the Costcutter fascia.

“We didn’t want people to think it was just a bigger Mace shop. We wanted to make a statement and get people’s curiosity going too,” says Simon.

J&S News South Ella (Costcutter)
  • Hours: 6.30am-9pm Monday-Friday, 7am-9pm Saturday, 7am-5pm Sunday
  • Trading since: June 1997
  • Size: 1,000sq ft
  • Staff: Four full-time, four part-time
  • Style: A recently-converted convenience store in a residential area. It is next to several local businesses and opposite a pub.

The store now boasts an expanded range of chilled and fresh food and alcohol. On the day of the relaunch, the store gave out free coffee, ran a colouring competition  for local children and carried out a wine tasting.

When it comes to wine, the Routledges are all about value. “I don’t think there’s any point in having a wine on the shelf at a high price,” says Simon. “I’d rather wait until it comes on promotion and get different wines in.”

By listening to customers and using their own knowledge, they’ve introduced a wealth of new products, such as Reese’s chocolate, speciality beers, small bottles of wine and tights. The store now has an expanded fruit and veg range. “We’ve been told our fruit and veg is cheaper than Aldi,” says Coralyn. “That’s from people that used to go there but now come here because they can buy single items and not let it go to waste.”

The store benefits from being near a school, but that will close this summer and be replaced with 90 houses. The Routledges are confident the changes they’ve made will appeal to the new demographic.

“Before people saw us as a glorified sweet shop because we served the school kids a lot,” says Coralyn. “People don’t come in when there’s a queue of kids in the shop. You might get 10 kids spending £1 each, but we now have adults spending up to £30.”

The store has introduced contactless payments, which have helped efficiency.

“It’s a small investment, but it makes a difference. The amount of card transactions we have has increased by 50%,” says Simon.

cashpointThe store also doesn’t charge for card payments and has a free cash machine. “The cash machine supplier wanted to start charging because there wasn’t enough footfall, but we came to an agreement that they would give us a few months and we’re doing okay now,” says Coralyn.

By keeping an eye on their local area and moving with the times, Simon and Coralyn have placed themselves in an strong position for the future.

“The shop was built in 1958 and there has only been three sets of owners,” says Simon. “The lady we bought the shop from came in the other week and was amazed at the changes. She just couldn’t believe it.