Freddy and Jackie’s flagship store sits in a campsite by the coast in north Devon – a mini-Mecca for surfers and holiday-makers seeking a breath of seaside air. Although it might be tempting to up their prices and take advantage of a seemingly captive audience, they have turned that business model on its head.
They offer super-competitive prices and deals across the board. If they can keep the turnover high and get customers coming back for more, then their strategy is working perfectly.
“The two-for-one deals work for us – it’s still that ‘greed’ element,” says Freddy.“That’s what people want in today’s market. I’m much more excited by turnover than waiting for someone to come into the shop and buy something expensive.”
In the past when they used to go to campsites on holiday with their own kids, they would get ripped off, says Jackie. But a shop with great prices is a surprise for many visitors.
One of the first things you see when you walk in is the £1 gondola end with lines like Jaffa Cakes and Bakewell tarts. This sets shoppers up straight away for what to expect: bargains galore.
Freddy says: “Without any doubt price-marks are very good – there aren’t many things that we don’t use price-marks on any more – it’s what people want. You cannot sell a 2litre bottle of Coke without a price-mark these days.”
The £1 price point is crucial – and it’s amazing what a difference a penny can make. “People will walk past a 99p mark but if it says £1 they see it. That’s something that’s happened really over the last two or three years,” says Jackie.
Customers are also interrupted by ‘pallet deals’ on the shop floor, like the offer of 15 cans of lager for £10 – a deal on a par with the major supermarkets.
On the advice of Diageo they put a range of spirits out on the shop floor and it has worked, making it easier for customers who would otherwise be embarrassed to ask for spirits over the counter.
Around 40 per cent of Fresco’s business is alcohol. But they also sell everything from snacks and confectionery to ingredients for people to cook a full family dinner in their holiday homes.
“We have a local butchers so they can even do a roast – it’s the whole shooting match,” says Freddy. Occasionally there are still Tesco deliveries on the site, which infuriates him. But with online shopping becoming increasingly popular, it is an area Fresco Supermarket is also looking at for the future. They already have an online presence. When people book their accommodation at the campsite there is a section about the shop that lists their deals.
To make an impact immediately, they also sell welcome packs to the holiday park to put into its houses for guests when they arrive. Freddy delivers about 120 a week across three holiday sites, dropping them off in his Premier van with his trusty Jack Russell Terrier Archie.
The hamper includes milk, cereal, bacon sausages, and household essentials like a dish sponge, and washing up liquid. It means guests arriving at the park late at night can begin their holiday regardless of whether the shops are open. The pack also includes a leaflet for Fresco, so they know where to go when they need more supplies. Back in the store the newspaper stand is right at the front of the shop but many people still walk past it and ask at the till if they sell papers.
“It just shows you have to keep things moving around and trying things out,” says Freddy.
At the back of the store there is a gift shop area – with everything from children’s toys to ceramics. It is about making the store a place where customers can get everything they need, and this is also where the greater margins are. “What I really enjoy is when the delivery lorry turns up and drops off 20 cases,” says Freddy. “It’s the satisfaction of turning over that much product. You know you must be doing something right.”