The move from CTN to fully-fledged convenience store has been five years in the planning for father and son team Phil and Chris Shelley
What started as “just a good idea” for the owners of Shelley’s Budgens in Horsham became a necessity because of the drastic change in the CTN market, says Chris.
“When we started to look at it, it was about growing the business and securing its long-term future,” says Chris.
“We were very dependent on home news delivery before – it accounted for around 30% of the business. But we realised it wasn’t sustainable.”
They still offer HND and it brings in £4,500 a week, but now the store has a full convenience offer it plays a smaller role.
Knowing that the switch to a convenience store would require a lot of support, the pair looked at several symbol groups before deciding on Budgens.
“They had a really good fresh offer, which was key as that’s the way the market’s going,” says Chris. “We needed to be able to compete with two Co-ops and wanted good support as we knew it would be a steep learning curve.”
The Shelleys bought the closed-down Spar next door in October last year and doubled the size of the shop, opening as Shelley’s Budgens at the end of November.
Chris admits the new business has had its challenges. They now have nearly 40 members of staff to manage, for example, a matter they know they’ll have to address when the living wage rises in April. “It will have implications for us, it’s an extra cost,” says Phil. “Retailers have got to look at their staffing levels.”
Fresh food was also a challenge, Chris says. “We had a lot of wastage one week and empty shelves the next – but we’re trying to get the balance right,” he says. “Our wastage is running at just under 3%, but we’re aiming to get it to 2%.
“You have to look at it almost like a marketing budget, especially at the start. It’s not about trying to run the shelves until they’re empty – you’ve got to have the stock on the shelves so there’s a full range to choose from.”
Despite the challenges, they’ve had great feedback from customers and have smashed their sales target. “We were doing £20,000 a week and our sales objective was to make £45,000,” says Chris. “We’re already doing £50,000.”
Chris says they’ve already made some changes to the store – delisting certain products and increasing the number of local suppliers they work with.
“Local produce gives a really good point of difference from the multiples – and customers are buying it. There’s a bit more admin to it but margins are higher,” he says.
Next up for Shelley’s Budgens is making sure that the store keeps up with the area’s steady growth in local housing by constantly assessing the range and reaching out to the local community more.
“The next few years will continue to be a learning curve. After that, who knows, maybe I could manage another store,” says Chris, “and dad would quite like to retire!”