Retail Newsagent’s main story this week looks at how independents are turning to discounting to hold on to customers in the face of growing competition from the likes of Poundland, 99p Stores and now Tesco, which is introducing pound zones in 300 supermarkets.

We asked head of Booker’s Family Shopper discount format Richard Cousins about the trend and what indies need to do to make sure they don’t get left behind.

Retail Newsagent: Why have we seen a trend towards discounting a pound lines in the convenience sector in the last couple of years?

Richard Cousins: Discount channels have grown massively over the last five years, with the likes of Lidl and Aldi and the multitude of £1 store formats in the market. Family Shopper is unique in its approach by blending discount and convenience into one easy to operate format – capitalising on a strong £1 promotional programme, non-foods, great value and quality own label products.

RN: How important is it for independents to have a discount offering?

RC: The convenience sector is moving at a very fast pace, and independents will need to be on the front foot to take full advantage of this vibrant sector by offering value and getting behind £1 lines. This is an easy way to demonstrate that they can offer value for money and capitalise on the growth in discount.

RN: What is Booker doing to support independents in developing pound zones – not just by sourcing products, but by developing PoS and new formats etc?

RC: Family Shopper is our dedicated format for independent retailers to have a discount format. We already offer a wide range of products pricemarked at £1 an £1 PoS is available for retailers. Encouraging retailers to have £1 Zone is something that we have actively done for a number of years.

[pull_quote_left]The convenience sector is moving at a very fast pace, and independents will need to be on the front foot to take full advantage of this vibrant sector by offering value and getting behind £1 lines[/pull_quote_left]
RN: How important is the non-food part of a discount offering?

RC: The non food area of the store creates another reason to visit Family Shoppers, with seasonal sections adding incremental sales opportunities with gardening, BBQ, Easter and Halloween key sales opportunities. These sections not only drive sales they are also very profitable too.

RN: The Family Shopper website advertises a range of 500 non-food products. Can you give some examples of which have been the most successful?

RC: Batteries, children’s toys and stationery lines are historically the best areas, however newly introduced categories such as hair care and gardening are fast moving up the ranks.

RN: Are well recognised brands important as part of a value offering or are shoppers just looking for value?

RC: Brands and own brands are equally important, some categories are far more brand driven than others, however value for money be it branded goods or own label is what drives consumer purchases.

RN: What’s the projection for store openings during 2014?

RC: We don’t have a specific number of stores, however we are on track with our expectations.