Steve Archer is achieving big results in his two small Premier stores by investing in modern equipment, convenience growth trends and layouts that entice customers to shop every corner of his businesses. Chris Rolfe reports
Our weekly sales in our Biddulph store mean we turn over £32 per square foot, which is comparable to Tesco,” says Steve Archer.
Steve is discussing the benefits of refitting two of his three Premier convenience stores in the past 10 months – an investment which has resulted in an 18% week-on-week increase in his Biddulph store since work was completed last month, and a £2,200 increase in weekly turnover in his Hightown store since June.
Steve and his wife Val attribute this growth to investment in layouts that drive sales, modern convenience ranges and new slimline equipment, and are especially pleased this has been achieved in just 900sq ft and 400sq ft stores.
“The idea for the layout for our first refit, in Hightown, came from a visit to Singh’s Premier in Sheffield,” says Steve. “They have a similar long, thin unit and had sited their frozen food in upright open chillers along the back wall. This brightened the back of the store and drew customers’ eyes to it.”
Steve adopted a similar layout in Hightown, with slimline chillers and lower central gondolas creating wider aisles and an illusion of extra space. These changes guide customers’ eyes from his new coffee machine and hot food unit at the front down the length of his extended chilled, frozen and soft drinks ranges.
“We doubled our chilled space,” says Steve. “Meal ingredients are a big growth area and even in a small store, you can stock a good basic range. We added fresh meat and veg and Booker’s Discover the Choice range, with pizzas and nine ready meals, including cottage pies, lasagnes, fish pies and curries, so people can get a meal for tonight. This store serves an affluent residential area, so we also added protein products, parmesan, mozzarella, salami and chorizo.”
Food to go has grown by 50%, sandwich sales have tripled and soft drinks sales have grown 40% as a result, he says.
Strategically-placed promotional bays are also helping to drive impulse sales. Steve worked with PepsiCo to install a four-sided snacks display unit midway down the store, which holds single and sharing bags, multipacks and boxes and offers a promotion on every side.
“We wanted to do something different, so they helped design this,” says Steve. “We’re a small store, but they invested time with us because this is a great way to drive sales. We’ve gone from selling 800 to 1,500 bags of crisps a month.”
A promotions bay currently housing Easter eggs and new Premier deals has also been sited by the till, tempting customers to make impulse purchases, while a kids’ zone, also near the till, unites slushes, snacks, sweets and magazines.
And while linear space for other magazines and newspapers has halved, Steve says working with the NFRN’s N3 initiative to cull two thirds of his titles and focus on the bestsellers has led to a 10% increase in sales.
Such was the success of the Hightown refit that Steve adopted a similar approach when refitting his 400sq ft Biddulph store last month.
In the tiny square unit, slimline open fridges have again created wider aisles and additional space for two walls of soft drinks, sandwiches, pies, chilled and fresh food, ready meals and wine. A promotions bay has similarly been placed by the door to house seasonal products and offers.
“We’ve seen an uplift in sales of 1.75l and 2l bottles of pop because we are able to display more facings and keep stocked up,” says Steve. “Chilled sales are up slightly more than 10% – especially snacks – and since we put bottles of red wines on a shelf by the chiller, we are selling as many of them as rosé and white.”
Steve’s story is proof that refitting and integrating the latest convenience trends prompts growth, whatever your store size.
“We knew we needed to modernise because everything changes,” he says. “Our basket spend is up to £5.75 in Hightown and £5.45 in Biddulph, which proves the refits were worth it.”
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