You don’t need me to tell you that a major driver of convenience market growth is shops with a recognisable badge above the door – both supermarket c-store chains and symbol groups.

The news that two high street giants – WH Smith and One Stop – are trialing franchise operations with independent retailers adds an interesting new dynamic.

A major discussion topic at the 2012 Local Shop Summit was newsagents questioning whether convenience-focused symbol groups were right for their stores.

Central to this discussion was Cheshire retailer Ian Handley, who was considering working with a symbol group to move his family newsagent business forward. One year on, and having joined Premier, Ian has seen sales go up 30% and is a good model for how a fascia group can add value to a shop with news at its core.

For those looking to join of a group without moving into convenience, WH Smith is an attractive proposition for standing out from supermarket and symbol c-stores. Shailesh Patel, whose Clapham store is the first to trial WH Smith Local, endorsed the power of having a household name above the door after seeing takings go up immediately, despite trading next to a Sainsbury’s Local.

While the details of the franchise model and rollouts of the WH Smith and One Stop initiatives aren’t clear, RN will be following both cases closely. In the meantime, we’ve visited Shailesh’s store and it is extremely impressive. WH Smith put up the fascia and helped with products and deliveries, but the immaculate presentation is down to the fact that Shailesh is a brilliant retailer.

Those expecting to join a group and see sales rocket will be in for a shock if the principles and disciplines aren’t in place behind it.

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