When Jeet Bansi opened his Londis store in a busy Banbury street chock-full of competition, including multiples, he was told he would be lucky to take £7,000 in his first week. Not only did he smash that figure in week one, he now takes about five times that much.
Jeet is a partner in the business, along with his wife Pam and brother Raj. Not only is their store immaculately laid out but every detail of pricing and positioning on the shop floor has been meticulously calculated to generate maximum return on sales.
“I believe if you do things well the results will come to you,” says Jeet.
This means putting super prices by the door to grab customers’ attention as soon as they walk in, such as £4 for a 32-bag Walkers variety pack.
In the summer this stack of super deals swaps places with the freezer – with double-digit margins on all ice cream, it’s an area Jeet can’t afford not to promote.
Rather than following conventional advice to put magazines, bread and milk at the front of the store, he has put these lines deep inside his shop to get customers browsing his shelves.
Shoppers walk past fruit and veg, where Jeet uses the £1 price point to maintain margins and attract customers.
The majority of turnover comes from fresh goods and after a refit, the shop now has 12.5m of chillers. Jeet stocks lots of meat, including chicken and mince, and should they ever run out of chilled lines there is a backup of frozen alternatives, so they never send anyone away empty-handed if at all possible.
He is also very good at knowing what people want and giving them what other shops do not. In the summer he takes extra care with availability of bread rolls for barbecues and ice for long drinks. He knows the weather forecast at all times and, unlike the immediate competitors, never runs out of ice and bread.
“No one else in this street sells vegetarian sausages. No-one else sells puff pastry, either, so we can charge £1.70-£1.75, which is about 25p up on the RRP,” he says.
Polish beers such as Perla, Lech and Zywiec are all very popular, to the extent he can premium-price them at £1.59, although he cannot remember the last time he sold a bottle of Pepsi at full price.
The shop has plenty of loyal customers, some of whom will spend up to £300 a week.
Jeet says it’s about personalising the experience for each person. As well as having a friendly attitude, he has learned enough Polish to make small talk with the 20 per cent of his customers who are Poles.
He says: “It’s about knowing your customers on a first-name basis and about saying hello, please and thank you, and ‘would you like a bag?’ It’s a way of making them feel welcome and about word of mouth.”
One area Jeet feels they could be stronger is in marketing. Even so, they haven’t done badly. They give Cadbury Crème Eggs to the local schools and make sure the parents know where they come from. Jeet says this can be a better way of advertising than putting a £300 ad in the local paper.
But that’s not a snub to the Banbury Guardian, whose recent relaunch the shop supported by giving away chocolate bars with the new-look newspaper.
“It’s a way of saying to people, ‘thank you for your custom’ and giving them value for money.”
The shop also gains regular editorial coverage by speaking to local MP Tony Baldry and campaigning when it applied for a post office.
Something that sums up Jeet’s commitment is that the shop is open every day of the year – or 364.5 days to be precise – with a half day at Christmas.
Jeet says: “There is always someone here and we pride ourselves on what we are doing.”