The Information for Independent Retailers seminar gave visitors a coffee, a sandwich and loads of free expert advice. The C-Store team sat in

Ateam from Mail Newspapers led an open session on driving footfall through newspaper sales. The Mail's Keith Godfrey urged retailers to double-face best sellers, and use them as category markers. He noted that space reserved for evening titles could be used for double-facing in the morning. Careful placement of pos materials was also vital, he said.
In response to a retailer's complaint that he could not get extra copies during promotions, Godfrey added that the company's field service team would act on behalf of retailers in dealing with wholesale supply issues.
Paul Chase of CPL Training gave a talk on Personal licences and underage purchases. He listed the "many sticks with which the licensing authorities can beat you", which as well as sales to minors also include selling to someone who is drunk, not displaying a premises licence, and members of staff not having written authorisation from the personal licence holder to serve alcohol.
Chase revealed that research showed that staff would be more likely to challenge a potential underage purchaser if they made eye contact with the youngster as they first entered the store, and that keeping a refusals log focused staff on their responsibilities. He suggested role plays and question techniques to help staff become confident about making challenges.
Retailers were given further advice on how to stay on the right side of the law in the ACS seminar on How to be a responsible retailer. The ACS pledged to continue to lobby the government to criminalise proxy purchasing, a major problem for the industry. Nisa retailer Kishor Patel, who bans any adult caught proxy purchasing from his store, urged other retailers to do the same.
The title of community retailer is something you have to earn, according to ACS chief executive James Lowman. At the session on Working with your community to increase sales, Lowman said that retailers should make sure that there was a sense of common purpose between the community's needs and their own.
Retailer Nigel Dowdney said he has used the local press to good effect to highlight efforts in his own store, even sending in photographs himself, but that retailers need to root stories in the local community to make them relevant rather than focusing on themselves.
About 900,000 Poles have entered the UK since 2004, and the average Polish migrant is aged between 18 and 34 and doesn't own a car - making them ideal c-store customers. Daniel Bajer, business development manager of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, said Poles shop daily rather than doing a large weekly shop, particularly for fresh food. He recommended that retailers research some key Polish brands, as homesick Poles liked familiar comfort food. Polish language newspapers are also in demand.
Retailers attending Gallaher's tobacco market update were urged contribute to the government's consultation on tobacco display restrictions, launched next month.
The issue could be one of the biggest to affect the industry in years, and could have a devastating impact on business if imposed, said Gallaher communications manager Jeremy Blackburn.
Requiring retailers to bend under the counter to retrieve products could make them easy targets for shoplifters, he said. The move would also result in longer queuing times, and could fuel the trade in illicit products as consumers looked elsewhere for their cigarettes.

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