With supermarket fuel prices squeezing his forecourt business hard, retailer Paul Oakley has invested to make his shop more profitable.
He has rebranded his Lincolnshire store as a Premier and is well aware that technology in the form of his new EPoS system will be key to getting his prices right and attracting shoppers.
Location: Horncastle, Lincs
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 8am-10pm Sun
Size: 1,000sq ft
Trading since: March 1994
Style: A convenience-focused forecourt on the road out of town, with housing estates and factories nearby. Lots of retail competition in town (Spar, One Stop, Co-op)
“One of the reasons we have updated the EPoS is so we can start doing linked deals – the £1 price point is something that really works for us,” he says.
But it is also important to interrupt your customers’ shop in the right way and alert them to your deals. This is why his team puts Premier leaflets inside the morning papers.
“People are creatures of habit,” Paul says.
Since the store’s rebrand customer numbers have hit around 800 a day and takings are up to £15,000 a week. The key to growing customer loyalty has been Premier’s focus on promotions, with the Mega Deals ad campaign running in The Sun newspaper a real winner.
Shop manager Andy Ostridge says: “The Mega Deals being supported in the national press has really helped. It’s better having four Mega Deals than one, and Foster’s has been outselling everything else.”
Another Mega Deal, on Regina toilet roll, has also been popular, along with multi-buy deals such as three KitKats for £1.
Promotions: Premier’s Mega Deals have been a hit with customers and Paul makes sure to promote them as much as possible with leaflets on the counter and in customers’ morning newspapers.
Symbol group: Since joining Premier, customers have said that Paul’s shop looks brighter and feels more spacious.
Technology: Do what’s right for you. Booker’s EPoS system allows Paul to offer linked deals but he also still runs DVD rental due to demand.
But it’s also about knowing your customers and making sure you have the stock to keep them happy. At £1.80 a bottle, Tyskie beer was a good seller and made a decent return for Paul’s business, but his previous wholesaler delisted it.
Paul keeps a careful eye on rival businesses’ core lines. For instance, he sells Kingsmill for 99p at his other site, knowing that the nearby Co-op sells it for £1.49.
Own-label products are, however, giving his business a real boost. Earlier this month, Booker’s Steve Fox said that by stocking the Euro Shopper range a retailer could add £10,000 to their bottom line. The group’s own-brand lines have become an important part of Paul’s business, particularly the Snax On The Go range and Euro Shopper Energy Drink.
Paul’s daughter, Sam, says: “People don’t just buy one energy drink. Because Euro Shopper is 35p, people buy two and save the other one for another day.”
Because of its location, the shop has a good mix of passing trade and families doing their full grocery shop. With a housing estate and the industrial estate across the road, food to go is an important category.
“We get people doing night shifts coming in for their sandwiches, pies and pasties,” says Andy. “But we also get a lot of people coming in to buy their day-to-day shopping. That has been picking up since we moved to Premier.”
One advantage has been the ability to order fresh food in smaller batches, thereby reducing the risk of waste. Sam says: “With Booker you can buy in smaller amounts – things like fresh meat and salads and fruit.”
This has helped Andy to grow the store’s chilled convenience offering, which attracts shoppers looking to buy a basket of goods to feed their family.
Andy says: “You could almost come in and do your full week’s shopping – the only thing we don’t do yet is roast joints. But ready meals are going quite well. I have tried them myself and they are very good.
“The two-for pricing helps, especially on things such as crisps and biscuits. Coffee machines are an important part of the business, too. We are always trying to increase our facilities.”