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Four months into running their store in Swansea town centre, retailers Wanda and Marc Winchester felt they needed to do more for their customers. They began noting down products locals were asking for that they didn’t have, and found their store could benefit from stocking more fresh produce. Steven Lambert reports
After four months of running their own convenience store in the middle of Swansea town centre, Wanda and Marc Winchester felt they needed to make some major changes to ensure the long-term success of their business.
Wanda says: “We were with another symbol group but things weren’t working out the way we had planned. We felt we could be doing a lot more for our customers.”
“We analysed the business over the last 14 weeks and made bullet points on everything shoppers were asking for that we didn’t have.”
Located on a busy high street, Wanda says she and Marc wanted to cater for the wide variety of shoppers passing by their store, ranging from city workers and students to young families and pensioners.
“We realised there was a huge demand for things like fresh fruit and vegetables and yogurts for people who were trying to live a bit more healthily, while others were calling out for things like coffee and croissants,” says Wanda.
With this in mind, the couple got in touch with Blakemore, who presented them with the opportunity to be one of the first convenience stores to take on its new Bmorelocal premium fascia.
“The more we chatted with Blakemore, the more they got us and the more we got them – we have developed a great business partnership since then,” says Wanda. “They are hot on offering good customer service and excellent choices for customers, so it felt like a win-win situation for us.”
After six weeks of negotiating and development, Wanda and Marc have finally opened their refitted Bmorelocal store this month.
Regular shoppers at the old store will immediately notice a number of major changes, including a doubling of the size of the business’s fresh and chilled food and drinks range.
“We now have five metres of chilled and another two and a half metres for alcoholic drinks and a double door Husky freezer. We also now have a huge selection of fruit and veg to give shoppers more choice,” Wanda explains.
The perks of food-to-go
Elsewhere, Wanda and Marc are appealing to busy shoppers with a new self-service Costa coffee machine, which has been sited next to a new range of hot food to go and bake-off pastries supplied by Country Choice.
“We’re surrounded by three of the major banks – HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays – so we get a lot of city workers using them on their lunch break, and we also have a 15-room student accommodation block above the shop,” Wanda says.
“We’re now able to appeal to them by offering a coffee along with donuts, pastries, sausage rolls and pasties.
“We will also launch a Costa coffee loyalty scheme to give incentives to people who use the machine regularly, and we will develop our food to go by asking what our customers want us to get in,” she adds.
With Blakemore’s assistance the store now advertises a meal deal which includes a sandwich or hot pastry, crisps or fruit and drink for £3.25, allowing the store to become a regular lunchtime destination for local workers.
How else are they appealing to their customer base?
Wanda adds she is also in the process of launching a dedicated Chinese foods section to cater to the large number of Chinese students in the area.
With only a few niche food stores on the outskirts of the city, this will give her a captive audience for customers wanting a few home comforts, she says: “We’ve asked customers about it and they thought it was a great idea. They have already started putting in ideas as to what we could get, whether it be a particular type of noodle or a specific Chinese brand that’s hard to find.”
Other plans for the new business include the launch of a loyalty card, which Wanda says she and Marc are discussing with Blakemore. She adds that they are already considering the possibility of adding a second Bmorelocal site early next year.
“People love the fact we’re a family-run business and they keep coming back because of the excellent customer service we provide,” Wanda says proudly.
“Now, with Blakemore, we have been able to expand the choice of products we can offer them and make our store even better.”
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