Panel one Balancing tobacco and vaping

The Panel

Nick Geens head of reduced-risk products, JTI 

Andrew Newton Nisa Local, Cradley

Arjan Mehr Londis Great Holland’s, Bracknell

Harj Gill Select & Save, Birmingham

Vince Malone Premier Tenby Stores & Post Office, Tenby


Chaired by

Jack Courtez editor of news, Newtrade

Three great ideas

1 Become a vaping destination

Providing customers with an unrivalled range of e-liquids and devices attracts shoppers from beyond a store’s normal catchment area. Longer opening hours and a wider offer gives stores that adopt this strategy a competitive edge, says Andrew Newton.

2 Visit a vape shop

Vince Malone has been going undercover in vape stores to find out more about their products, customer service, promotions and prices. He says staff may think he’s their oddest customer with the questions he asks, but the information he gains used in his own store turns “vapour into paper”. 

3 Train your staff

The panellists agreed there is a knowledge gap in many convenience stores. JTI’s Nick Geens said the company can provide training to staff and stores, but accepted that more support is needed. Panellists suggested recruiting an avid vaper to manage the section or to use a supplier.

Panel two Driving your business forward with digital 

The Panel

Steve Denham associate editor, betterRetailing.com 

Mo Razzaq Family Shopper, Blantyre

Sam Coldbeck Wharfedale Premier Convenience, Hull

Aman Uppal One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry 


Chaired by:

Kate Daw circulation manager, Newtrade

Three great ideas

1 Get on Google Maps 

While some areas of digital marketing might seem intimidating, others are simple and extremely effective. Steve Denham revealed that 80% of stores present at the Local Shop Summit are not signed up to Google Maps, which means customers cannot find their business when making a search of local companies.

2 Use polls on Facebook

Collecting data on your customers’ tastes and behaviours has been made more difficult by the GDPR legislation, which arrived earlier in the year. Sam Coldbeck suggested that Facebook polls where no personal data is involved is a great way to get around any potential problems. 

3 Be open to new ideas

The overall message of the discussion was that retailers who succeed with a digital strategy are those who try and fail and try again with new apps and websites that come along. “Don’t turn down an opportunity because you don’t understand it,” Sam Coldbeck told the audience. 

Panel three Maximising the premium spirits opportunity

The Panel

Mark Herbert field sales controller, Pernod Ricard UK

Harj Dhasee Nisa Village Store, Mickleton

Bruce Morgan Brownlie’s Best-one, Biggar 

Pratik Patel Jay’s Budgens, London


Chaired by:

Martyn Fisher editor, Better Wholesaling

Three great ideas

1 Make the most of gin

While whisky has had a massive resurgence in the past year, gin is still topping the charts when it comes to growth in spirits, with shoppers still gravitating toward craft and premium varieties. Bruce Morgan says he stocks a local variety and has already sold over 100 bottles of it in recent weeks. 

2 Inspire shoppers with cocktail culture

Getting your display right attracts additional sales. Last Christmas, Harj Dhasee sold £6,000-worth of premium spirits by bringing them out from behind the counter to a more prominent position. Accessories are equally as important and Harj has sold more than 300 gin glasses this year.

3 Talk to your customers

Visiting bars to find out what the most popular spirits are can help drive incremental sales, especially when it comes to discovering new brands and trends, says Pernod Ricard UK’s Mark Herbert. Last year, 40% of value sales in the premium spirits category in the off-trade was driven by new products. 

Panel four Working towards a sustainable retail future

The Panel

Nick Brown head of sustainability, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) 

Bart Dalla Mura Greenhill Stores Costcutter, Warwickshire

Trudy Davies Woosnam & Davies News, Wales

Kate Mills Heath Stores, Horsmonden

Dennis Williams Premier Broadway, Edinburgh


Chaired by: 

Megan Humphrey news editor, Newtrade

Three great ideas

1 Demand suppliers take responsibility

CCEP’s Nick Brown urged suppliers to interact and educate retailers ahead of the deposit return scheme. However, more than half of the panel feel like they are currently not receiving the right level of support. 

2 Inspire one another

Community efforts are growing surrounding sustainability and you need to shout about them. They don’t have to be big changes. For example, Kate Mills sends a monthly newsletter to her community updating them on their sustainability efforts, and Trudy Davies is taking part in a local clear-up. Don’t be afraid to try new things. 

3 Invest in LED lighting 

Kate introduced LED lighting into her store a few months ago, and has reaped the rewards. She received an EU grant to pay for the installation, with an 18-month payback period. Once this has been paid off, it’s money straight in your pockets.

Panel five Keeping ahead of changing consumer habits

The Panel

Martin Swadling Londis brand director, Booker Wholesale

Julian Taylor-Green Taylor-Green’s Spar, Linford

Sue Nithayandan Costcutter Epsom, Surrey

Curty Patel Londis Ferme Park Road, London 

Faraz Iqbal Premier Linktown Local, Fife


Chaired by: 

Chris Dillon editor of insight, Newtrade 

Three great ideas

1 Make space for trends

All four retailers on the panel had made space for food trends. Sue Nithyanandan has introduced gluten-free displays while Faraz Iqbal’s protein range brings in shoppers from a nearby gym: “You don’t need five brands of things like ketchup, that space can be much better used,” Faraz says. 

2 Stay ahead by changing habits

Booker’s Martin Swadling said that a great way to stay ahead is to shape consumer habits, whether that’s emphasising using reusable bags or encouraging charity donations. “Everyone has a role in this. Donating to food banks and charities is great for business,” he said. 

3 Know where to spot trends

Trade shows, social media and press were mentioned as great ways to keep informed of trends. “We recently started stocking Flyte, a premium soft drink that sells for £2.50, and vegan ice cream because we spotted them at a trade show. Both brands are flying off the shelves,” Sue says. 

Panel six Building profitable shopper journeys 

The Panel

Ian Clarke national account controller, Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Terry Mulkern Eurospar, Newry 

Vip Measuria One Stop The Prior Way, Derbyshire 

Philip Constantine Nisa Orpington, South London 

Meten Lakhani St Mary’s Supermarket (Premier), Southampton


Chaired by: 

Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski features editor, Newtrade  

Three great ideas

1 Seasonal gets staff motivated

Retailers on the conference floor discussed the difficulties of motivating staff who earn their near-£10-an-hour salaries. Meten Lakhani said that seasonal events were something his staff loved to get involved with – from being part of the planning to putting on festive T-shirts. 

2 Give festive food a go

Terry Mulkern’s store in Northern Ireland employs three chefs to provide “restaurant-quality food” in store. Last year, one chef suggested that they try Christmas puddings as an on-the-go snack. It was one of the season’s biggest hits.  

3 Plan your in-store theatre now 

Mars Wrigley’s Ian Clarke emphasised the importance of bringing seasonal opportunities to life and planning displays ahead. A poll of the audience showed a third of businesses had plans for the big seasonal events – that leaves two-thirds who have an opportunity to plan and profit.