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The tobacco display ban is fast approaching small stores. Though most retailers will now have a firm plan in place, 25% of retailers are still confused about the best path to take.
There are many ways retailers can cover up after April 6, but each method has its strengths and weaknesses. We ask three top retailers how they are getting ready for the change and what challenges and opportunities they face:
Supplier gantry doors:
Supplier owned gantries such as the ones looked after by Imperial Tobacco or JTI, will have doors installed on them by the manufacturers before the deadline.
Raaj Chandarana, Tara’s News, High Wycombe, says: “As an industry we are massively overcomplicating it – it’s only a door. We’re contracted with JTI and we’ve had the doors on for four weeks now and it’s going brilliantly. We’ve been planning this for two years and we actually increased our range before the doors went on to include more niche and premium products. Smokers are feeling quite alienated at the moment so it’s important to look after them. I’m trying to get my customers to convert to e-cigs because the margins are higher. We stock the whole Vapestick range on the counter and offer a try-before-you-buy service.”
If plain packaging comes in, retailers will be faced by a wall of plain packs in the gantry. This could add delays to service.
An overhead gantry is a fixed to the ceiling and allows the cigarettes to remain visible to the retailer, while hidden to customers. There are stickers that go under each different product so even if plain packaging enters the market, retailers will be able to quickly find the product they are looking for.
Linda Sood, Falcon Convenience Store, Portsmouth, says: “We’ve had an overhead gantry in place since August. My regulars are used to it, but some customers walk in and walk out when they don’t see an obvious gantry there. We’ve cut back on the slower tobacco lines but it’s still selling well. The unit holds 120 different products, cost us £1,600 and allows us to keep an eye on the store while we’re serving. We stock alcohol where the gantry used to be and have expanded our range, which has increased sales by 30%.”
Increased security, convenient, easy to use
Tobacco products are even more hidden making it less obvious that a store stocks tobacco.
Tobacco vending machines allow a retailer to press a button that makes the cigarette pop out. This saves time looking for the product and ensures a speedy service, even with plain packaging.
David Charman, Spar Parkfoot & Garage, Kent, says: “Our gantry is with Imperial Tobacco. We had the doors on for about half an hour before we took them off because there’s no point in covering up until you really have to. We are also now installing a vending machine that connects to our till system and will sit behind the gantry. Imperial’s gantry can then be used as a backup. The threat of plain packaging was the reason that we decided to go for it. The vending machine costs £5,000 but is a worthy investment to be future proof.”
Plain packs & Tobacco Products Directive future proof, ensures an efficient service