Trade exhibitions are a prime opportunity to develop your business.

We attended the Nisa exhibition earlier this month and, instead of going around the stalls on the day, we pre-arranged meetings to network with suppliers. The more work you put in before the event, the more you get out of it.

We’re looking to do a big push on how we work with suppliers.

For the last few years we’ve been looking at our stores on a macro level, but now it’s about looking at them on a micro level by assessing each category, working with a key partner and trying to grow sales.

Instead of just getting it in and putting it on the shelf, it’s about creating a bit more theatre and really trying to get these products to sell

We looked for any supplier that we see growth potential with, ranging from big established companies to some newer brands that we don’t stock yet.

One of the suppliers we met with was Popchips. We tried them and they taste amazing, but we know that if we stock them they won’t fly off the shelf. We have to look at what we can do over and above that, with things like leaflet advertising and social media – the latter of which has been massive for us.

Over the weekend, we put up a post about ice cream and we got 15,000-16,000 views and a strong response rate.

We’ve been talking to suppliers in terms of how we create a multi-pronged approach, so even before the customers walk in they will have seen the product on social media and on our leaflets.

Then, when they come in, it’s on an off-shelf display, it’s within the category on promotion and when they go to the tillpoint there’s an upsell opportunity. Instead of just getting it in and putting it on the shelf, it’s about creating a bit more theatre and really trying to get these products to sell.

We saw about 35 suppliers and we found there’s an opportunity to work with all but one of them.

It’s a big part of our strategy for this financial year. Now we just need to get agreements tied up over the next four weeks or so to see what we’re going to be doing and who we’re going to be working with.