Parfetts is looking to more than treble the store count of its Go Local symbol group after record growth during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to betterRetailing during the company’s trade show last week, Parfetts retail director Guy Swindell celebrated winning 200 new symbol group stores during the pandemic, taking the group to close to its 1,000-store target.

Parfetts plans to build on this with a major storewide own-label development plan, online ordering plans and an expansion of its geographic reach.

Parfetts begins Go Local own label rollout

The company attributed the growth to converting customers from rival symbol groups, many of whom visited Parfetts’ cash and carries for the first time during the pandemic.

“We did so well during lockdown. We were seeing new customers in Bargain Booze, Nisa, Costcutter and Spar jackets. It gave us a ton of leads, and we’ve been flat out ever since,” said Swindell.

Describing the makeup of the newly converted sites, Swindell told betterRetailing: “We used to see a lot of new sites, unaffiliates and some Premiers, but now we’re seeing a lot of Bargain Booze retailers. We are also seeing Costcutters and Premiers.”

The retail director said “better margins” were the key to Parfetts’ success.

Go Local retailer Sasi Patel agreed: “With Bargain Booze, we were trading at £27,000, but at 16 points margin. Two years on, our Go Local in Bellfield is at 23 points margin and £2,000 up on sales, due to the pandemic.”

With Parfetts forecasting 3,000 Go Local stores by 2031, Swindell said: “The journey for us now is working with retailers, developing their stores and continually improving the proposition. [Parfetts is] looking at Spar, Co-op and One Stop.

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“We want to make the tools they provide to their customers available to ours while still maintaining their independence, not boxing them in and making sure the margins are still favourable. It’s about keeping our DNA, while also doing all the extras.”

The “extras” include own label. At its trade show last week, Parfetts announced plans to launch 400 own-label lines.

New ranges of household, snacking and ambient grocery lines – including jam, pet food, toilet roll, tinned carrots, cider, squash, detergent and coffee – become available to stores this week.

Swindell said the own label plan was to “build a better-looking brand than the brands” across all categories while offering industry-beating margins.

The company is also replacing its current ordering app to include the ability for store staff to add dozens of products to an order in one sweep by pointing the camera where needed while they walk down aisles.

Increasing its store count also depends on Parfetts going beyond its north-midlands heartland. The wholesaler has expanded into north Wales, the south midlands and Newcastle.

Explaining the strategy, Swindell said: “If you look at Stoke, a couple years ago, we had no customers there, but now we are doing around £150,000 a week turnover from the city with 10 or 12 facias there as well.”

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