One year on from MJs Go Local Extra’s refit, Steve Denham visited the store to look at what further changes can be made so they can improve their store even further

Last year, on their re-launch day, Jai Singh asked me to help get their shelf-edge labels created, as he just had not had the time to scan every product before opening day. I was very happy to do this as it gave me a fantastic opportunity to see their entire range and get a better understanding of the store.

Later in the day I walked around the store with Jai and Mandeep and talked about the insights that I had gained from my morning’s work. I started with an assessment of what the range told me about their customer mix, and moved on to where I thought the likely strengths and weakness in the range were.

cakes and cerealsOne area was biscuits and cakes. On my first anniversary return visit I noticed the first gondola of bread, cereals, tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits – a fantastic sight. Mandeep has worked with Cereal Partners to improve the focus of this ‘first impression’ range with breakfast cereals and hot beverages, adding impact to this important area of the store. The ranges have also been enhanced by finding new local suppliers for bakery, cakes and biscuits.

Although they operate their store at a high level, both Jai and Mandeep know that there is still work to do and they are not yet satisfied that the store has reached the best that they can deliver for their customers. So Mandeep asked “How can we improve our store?”

Last July, it was easy to make some simple suggestions about improving their range. This year, with the store looking so great, it is much more challenging to give sound advice

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Continue to improve fresh & chilled, as these are the basis of a strong convenience store business.

Jai said that he will be inviting Nisa back to undertake a reassessment of their range and he is in negotiations with a new local butcher to add to their meat range. One of the key reasons why supermarket-operated convenience stores achieve higher sales than independents is because fresh and chilled in their stores delivers 50% of their sales.

  1. Nail down food hygiene by gaining a 5-star rating on their next assessment by the local authority.

This will provide a solid foundation to achieve their ambition to grow their in-store sandwich and food-to-go offer. Mandeep is in regular contact with Country Choice to ensure that the store gains the top rating and has developed a plan to have the store ready for this to happen.

  1. Continue to build productive partnerships with manufacturers and producers.

Jai SinghAfter building successful partnerships with Cereal Partners and Heineken, Jai and Mandeep understand the value that can be gained by bringing supply chain expertise into their store. They now need to develop more partnerships to help with the other key categories to drive their store on in the future.

I am certain that when I next visit MJs Go Local Extra my ideas will be just some of the improvements that Jai and Mandeep will have implemented to maximise the business opportunities they have created.