After pondering a refit for a long time, former NFRN national president Ray Monelle and his wife Andrea, decided to become the first to refit the federation’s new Everyday fascia.

Former NFRN national president Ray Monelle recently became the first retailer to refit under the federation’s new Everyday fascia. But it wasn’t just the attraction of being a trailblazer for other members that led  to the complete overhaul of the Weston-super-Mare shop owned by Ray and his wife Andrea.

Ray Monelle“We’ve been thinking about a refit for quite a long time. I have heard about the growth of vaping and food to go from my work with the federation and I also wanted to increase my alcohol range,” Ray says.

Speaking a week after the £30,000 refit was completed, Ray has already seen a 20% uplift in sales and believes his average basket spend is up by 100%. He attributes this to a shift in his customer’s perception of what the store can offer them.

“We have already got a lot of positive feedback and I’ve noticed some new customers coming in. Our location is officially classified as ‘secondary high street’ but we also have a lot of residential properties around, as well as a lot of offices. People are impressed by the range,” he says.

The combination of trade from residents and lunchtime custom from office workers is reflected in Ray’s new food to go range – housed within a new three-metre chilled display which uses energy-efficient Pastorfrigor units.

“We are really going for the whole day trade, from breakfast right through to the evening, so we have pies and pastries as well as the full range of Munch sandwiches,” he says, adding the sandwiches have so far proved the most popular item, with the previously limited range offering a less exciting proposition for customers.

Ray MonelleThe “all-day” approach Ray is focusing on is reflected in his extended opening hours, with the store now closing at 8pm rather than 5.30pm Monday to Saturday, and at 4pm rather than 1pm on Sundays.

But the most visible sign of Ray and Andrea’s refit remains the new signage outside. He says he made the choice to go with the Everyday fascia in order to benefit from the expert advice of NFRN Commercial, taking a lot of advice on how to make the most of his 600sq ft space from the federation. However, he also believes the fascia will give him more flexibility than other symbol groups.

“I wanted to have more of an extended range than symbol groups offer – they can be restrictive with their range. I am a great believer in getting the advice of the experts but there are one or two parts of the store that I know work well for my customers, like my tobacco range,” he says.

Ray previously removed vaping equipment entirely from his store for a year after focusing on tobacco, but now has a 1.5 metre unit dedicated to the category.

“My tobacco sales have remained pretty stable though all the legislative changes and pipe tobacco is one of our store’s USPs but I have had training on vaping now, and so have our staff. You have to be familiar with what you’ve got so you can talk to customers about it.”

Food to go and vaping aside, the upgrade gaining the most attention from Ray’s customers is the expansion of his alcohol range, offering cases of 12 beers as well as spirits such as Archers, Malibu and Caption Morgan for the first time.

“I have already seen an increase in alcohol sales. People have commented on the range. Before we were seen as more of a top-up store, but now people are definitely coming to just to buy drinks,” he says.

Going forward, Ray is expecting more change to come, but says his priority will be to listen to his customers and make changes to what he stocks as his customers learn more about what the store now offers, what they want from it and what – perhaps – is surplus to requirements in his range.

“We are expecting that some of the new products will do better than others but you have to be ready to try new things and see how they go”. 

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