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When husband and wife team Steve and Wendy took over the News Boutique in Gosport with their son Matt in 2013, they knew that its days as a newsagents were numbered.
The store used to benefit from early morning trade from boat builders in Portsmouth Harbour, but when operations moved to Scotland, the family took the opportunity to try something different.
Knight’s Convenience store (Premier Express), Gosport
Hours: 6am – 8pm Mon-Sat, 8am-7pm Sun
Trading since: May 2013
Size: 580sq ft
Staff: 3 full time, 2 part time
Style: A convenience store on a busy seaside high street, which includes a Poundworld, Aldi, off-licence and newsagents.
After a year of discussions with Booker, it took just three weeks to revamp the store and reopen it as Knight’s Convenience Store.
The counter has been moved forward to allow queues to form inside the store rather than out the door as they would before. “Booker is supporting us with promoting the new shop. They’re giving us a load of goody bags, PoS kits and a couple of thousand leaflets,” says Steve.
The store now benefits from two 2.5 metre chillers for drinks and chilled foods, allowing them to extend into food to go.
“We’ve just started a new range of fresh local sandwiches and they’re flying off the shelves. I think we sold more than 150 in the first week,” says Matt.
The changes ensure the store stands out from the nearby WHS Local and a newsagents around the corner.
As a CTN, the store already had high footfall, and £6,000 a week was spent topping up the tobacco gantry alone, says Steve. “We’re expecting a 50% increase in turnover when we’re fully up and running, if cigarette sales stay the same,” adds Matt.
Being a convenience store, the team now has a wider scope of products and services to offer and is looking at introducing a slush machine, lunchtime meal deals and doing DVD rentals with snacks and drinks for a fixed price.
“We’re always trying different things to improve the place. Some pay off, some don’t, but if you don’t try someone else might do it and you’ll be too late. Take educated risks,” says Steve.
The move will also give them more offers to promote on social media, which plays a big part in their advertising.
“People come to the high street from the whole of Gosport and Fareham. We couldn’t leaflet all those areas as that’s 40,000 houses. Social media does it for us and lets us advertise by postcode,” explains Matt.
An essential role of a good local store is looking out for the community and the store has been built with its customers in mind. It has wheelchair friendly access and will soon offer a home delivery service, allowing elderly people in the area to phone in with orders.
“Wheelchair users park up and we’ll grab what they need and put it in their bags. You wouldn’t get Tesco or Aldi doing that,” says Matt.
Far from resting on their laurels, the Knights have big plans beyond Gosport.
Until recently Matt was going to train to be an accountant, but since taking over the store he has got the bug for retail.
“I’d love to open a second store in London,” he says. “It’s a bit tricky now but once this store has settled down, we’ll consider looking at other ventures.”
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