Spar wholesaler James Hall & Co is focusing its store development strategy on catering to larger supermarket-style shopping.

The wholesaler is the primary supplier for more than 600 Spar retailers in the north of England.

During the coronavirus pandemic, James Hall & Co, among other wholesalers, symbol groups and unaffiliated retailers, saw average in-store basket spend in its shops increase as a result of customers staying at home and buying larger-format packs.

Peter Dodding, the wholesaler’s sales and marketing director, told betterRetailing: “The conversations we’re having with our sales team is that the two key focuses for the future should be store investment and layout.

Spar UK looks to Europe for lockdown strategy says managing director Louise Hoste

“We have been speaking with retailers on how to manage social distancing and how things are going to change for the rest of the year.

“Customers are more uncomfortable. There are longer queues. We’re looking at how we can develop the store checkouts. Customer spend has gone up to £10 and, in some cases, the value has been significantly higher.

“Our stores aren’t geared for trollies, but the customers who are coming in are buying an amount more suited for trollies. I’ve already been speaking to some of our retailers on managing this.”

Eat 17 launches food-to-go-focused franchise

Dodding added that James Hall is revamping its promotional and marketing strategy. “We’ve recently launched promotions that offer multibuy on products such as milk, eggs and potatoes.

“We’re looking at further promotions on grocery, fruit and veg, alcohol and own-brand products.

“We’re reviewing the range. For example, a new meal deal promotion will be available at the beginning of September to drive value. A protein package is also being launched and we’re refreshing all our PoS,” he said.

“The coronavirus pandemic has also made us look at our marketing strategy. I had to throw away thousands of leaflets because nobody wants additional paper.

Coronavirus: traffic light system installed at Spar Hillingdon

“We were moving more towards digital anyway, but we’ve moved faster in the past few months. Paper won’t be out entirely, but a digital package will be available to retailers in early September.”

James Hall & Co also offers own-label food to go through its Clayton Park Deli and Fazila brands. Explaining how these ranges will be developed, Dodding said: “Food to go is still a key category for us. Although we’re not entirely dependent on food to go, we’ll be continually developing the products.

“We manufacture them ourselves, so it’s all within our control and it can help us maximise availability and additional revenue for our stores.”

Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Retailer Support Hub and Live News Feed

Follow our coronavirus live feed for all the latest news and expert industry advice for the independent retail sector:

Latest coronavirus news and advice for retailers