Bestway Retail is planning to launch new formats for its fascias after analysis of its retail estate identified new opportunities for the company and for store owners.

The research project followed Bestway’s acquisition of Conviviality’s retail assets in April 2018, including the Bargain Booze, Select Convenience, Central Stores and Wine Rack brands.

Bestway chief retail officer Andy Cresswell told betterRetailing the company worked with a research firm, CACI, to examine potential sales opportunities for its 400 franchise and 180 centrally owned stores over the past six months. Explaining Bestway Retail’s current focus, Cresswell said: “Now it’s about stability and moving forward.”

The retail chief revealed that Bestway Retail has identified four-to-six formats for the brands acquired from Conviviality, and it is looking to present them to retailers after trialling at company-managed sites over the next six months.

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Asked about the new formats, he commented: “A couple of formats will be focused on drinks, while some will focus on convenience. We’ll be able to do what our competitors do and refine that.

“It’s also clear we still have a big market for discount alcohol, but there’s also an opportunity for premium alcohol,” he added.

“We want to deliver a range you won’t find in the multiples or standard convenience stores.”

The trials are likely to include changing company stores between the fascias it owns based on the research. Giving an example, he said: “That’s traditionally been a Bargain Booze store, but is that the best use of the location?”

He stressed this is a “long-term strategy”, not a transition of hundreds of stores in a short space of time.

At the end of 2018, Bestway revealed to betterRetailing that it was working on a food-to-go proposition for independent stores.

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When betterRetailing asked for an update, Best-one head of sales and development manager Paul Adams said trials had been carried out, but they had struggled to “identify a supply partner to complement us”.

He explained: “There is frustration because a lot of food-to-go stores get ‘hyper-care’ at first, but it becomes transactional later, and retailers manage wastage rather than opportunity because there’s no support.”

He added that food to go works best when it is tailored to local areas, and that it would not be right for all shops. “It’s about giving stores choice, and, if it isn’t right for them, having plans B and C,” he said.

Asked about how Bestway Retail’s plans to expand its store network, Cresswell said the company is approaching franchisees and partners, but also those not currently working with Bestway Retail.

The chief retail officer also said geographic gaps in the Bargain Booze estate are “an opportunity and not a threat”.

Asked to comment on areas with fewer stores, such as the south east, he responded: “There are parts of the country where we have the same opportunity, but have no stores.”

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