Location: Acton, Sudbury, Suffolk
Hours: 6am-8pm Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm Sun
Staff: Two full-time, two part-time
Size: 2,200sq ft
Trading since: 1977 (since 2012 with current owner)
Competition can be challenging, but so is its absence. The nearest store to Tim Mukunthan’s Costcutter store in Acton is in the closest town, three miles away.
It is this large catchment area including small country villages, rural places of work and a spattering of schools that provide most of the store’s revenues. The road and bus stop outside is the major thoroughfare between these points, giving a steady stream of visitors outside of the 1,000 door village on the doorstep.
Tim’s shop must play a range of roles as diverse as the territory, and he’s well aware of this. “We’re at the centre of the village, so we have to reflect this in our offering,” he explains.
Nothing summarises this viewpoint better than the story of their store makeover. When they closed their store for three months for a £250,000 complete rebuild, there was no ‘see you in three months’ sign. They refitted their house next door as a stock room, serving essentials through the living room window. Just over a year on, he’s “just about getting his living room back to normal.”
The extension doubled their square footage and allowed the store to better fulfil the requirements of the area. As a result, they immediately doubled their revenue as well.
Explaining a major reason behind this, Tim says: “We’d previously been limited as to what we could range but the extra space has enabled us to expand high-value areas such as groceries and food to go.” However, there’s no doubt that part of this revenue boost was due to the connection the store has built with the local community. During the visit every customer who came in was greeted by name, stock is ordered for individual needs and individual discounts are offered at the point of payment.
The areas expanded after the extension closely reflect changing demands. The news and magazine range was reduced to make way for a hot food to go station and a coffee machine, which deliver more than 50 sales a day.
The fresh produce range – a key growth area, according to Tim – has also grown to nearly 40 lines.
Even larger however is the wine range, which contains more than 150 varieties of red, white and rosé in chillers and dark wood units, helping to cement the impression that the store is a wine specialist.
Tim has also been quick to respond to niche demands within the area, increasing the vegetarian offering across frozen, fresh and ambient sections and increasing his Polish offering in both alcohol and fresh meats.
All of the different elements are brought together in an open, spacious area. But Tim is quick to point out that the space still pulls its weight in terms of sales, with seasonal promotions given centre stage on Individually-sourced display barrels.
“This space is crucial in ensuring any promotion receives great visibility at the beginning, middle and end of the shopper’s journey,” he says.
There’s another bonus to this open space as well. It also gives Tim clear access to his new favourite part of being a shop owner – the free, fresh coffee.
- Keeping it fresh – “To maximise revenue and customer confidence from fresh produce you need to keep shelves full but your bins empty with careful stock management and early reductions.”
- Use your outside space – “We use parking availability and promotions to entice passing traffic, but most successful for us is our summer plant sales out front.”
- Choose promotions carefully – “Promotions should be a mix between seasonal demand, great deals for the customer and great deals for the store,” says Tim. He recommends looking at the store demographic and acting accordingly.
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