With seven refits, effective store management systems and new products in place, Scarborough retailer Danny Wilson is confident his One Stop stores are fit for a bright future. Chris Rolfe and Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski report
Danny Wilson finally feels in control. For a man who has made the journey from single-store owner 11 years ago to owning and running seven convenience stores in and around the Scarborough area today, this is some feat.
“Previously, we always felt like we were on the brink of a crisis,” says Danny. “If a system went down or one of us was ill there wasn’t any slack.”
So what’s changed? Over the past two years Danny has moved his estate of stores, which range in size from 900sq ft to 2,400sq ft, over to One Stop and has undertaken refits and introduced new systems in each one.
Last year, Danny and his brother Craig were overseeing almost one full refit per month, while also getting to grips with the standards and systems One Stop uses. Six months since completion, however, Danny credits these changes for reducing pressure on the stores. They have also created more time for the important things – spending time in the stores and looking for new opportunities to drive sales.
“With One Stop, a lot of our ordering is generated for us. It’s not perfect but it’s good and, compared with three hours’ work, we now spend just half an hour checking the order that’s been generated,” Danny says.
They’ve helped us put more emphasis on things like three big beers for £5 or a sandwich meal deal for £3. It really benefits us
This is just one of the efficiencies Danny has introduced over recent months. “One Stop prepare management accounts, including VAT, sales and purchasing, which I can then check,” he says. And with changes to his deliveries, each of the stores have each managed to cut staff hours by at least 10 to 15 hours and reduce the four to six hours spent checking promotions by hand too. The business is therefore in a strong position despite the growing burden of the National Living Wage and pensions auto-enrolment.
The stores have also been able to access One Stop’s mission-based promotions. “They’ve helped us put more emphasis on things like three big beers for £5 or a sandwich meal deal – with a drink and snack or crisps – for £3. It really benefits us,” he says.
Scarborough – and the nearby town of Bridlington where one of Danny’s best-performing sites lies – are popular seaside locations, meaning categories such as beer have long been important. Here too, the business has felt the benefit of a fresh pair of eyes.
“One Stop is good at picking ales. They’ve changed them recently and added, for example, six packs of Birra Moretti. When we first joined, they brought in Brew Dog and we’ve now got Piston Head lager in small cans – it’s where the market is going,” Danny says.
Yet some big sellers remain resolutely the same – buckets and spades are still top sellers in the seaside stores. It’s one reason why in one of these sites, sales rise by up to £30,000 per week during the summer. “It can get massively busy,” says Danny who adds that, despite this, he emphasises to his store managers that high standards must always be maintained and essential products like bread and milk are always in stock. These are standards he sees as complementary to the system-heavy model One Stop operates.
And looking at the numbers, it seems the cumulative effect of the recent changes has been dramatic. Over the past six months, sales in the stores together have risen by £110,000 compared to the same period in 2014 with his previous symbol group. Weekly sales in the Bridlington store are up £1,500 per week, and in the Newborough store by £5,000 week on week. Most of the stores saw week-on-week growth, even during the colder winter months after tourist trade had largely disappeared.
Danny says the recent changes have helped give him a “really nice lifestyle for the first time in a while” – a valuable benefit but not one which has sated his appetite for pushing his business forward.
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