Making shopping easier has been at the heart of an initiative carried out by Batleys in partnership with Diageo. After a successful trial at two of its depots, it has carried out a re-lay at its remaining 15 depots in England and Wales.

The decision to go ahead with the project was taken at a meeting attended by Batleys operations director Martin Race, his three regional controllers Rob Whittington, Paul Woodthorpe and Mike Ward, and Diageo account manager Nick Hill and category development manager Natalie James.

Nick emphasises that it was a category project, not a Diageo sales project. He says: "We did not influence on Diageo's behalf even 1%. We know that Martin and the regional controllers would have picked up on it and it wouldn't have got through. There were recommendations that some products came out and some were added, but those decisions were down to the regional controllers, depot managers and Batleys/Bestway policy."

Rob Whittington adds: "It made us understand which products didn't sell, so you could see the range needed modifying. However, at Batleys we pride ourselves on range so while there was some range rationalisation, in reality very few lines were taken out."

In addition to suggesting ranges and facings, the plans also looked at the layout of products to make shopping easier for customers. Included in this was signage for each of the depots, which was supplied by Diageo.

The next stage was getting branch input into the process. Nick explains: "The draft plan for each branch was slightly different so I went round with Rob to his depots, with Mike to his depots and with Paul to his depots, and we had meetings with the managers and the department teams at each depot before agreeing the final plans."

Rob says: "We explained what the concept was and the managers bought into it. They saw it was going to benefit sales, customer flow and ease of shop." Nick adds: "The great thing about the initial visit was if there were any tweaks that were needed they were agreed there and then."

Alan Redman, general manager at the Swindon depot, agrees: "It was also important that the team were involved, as we needed to change a few details. For instance, bottle size was an issue so we ended up putting the large bottles on the bottom shelf."

One of the concepts that has been implemented to make the section easier to shop is grouping all variants of a product together. Nick says: "As we went around depots we asked customers what they had on their shopping lists and they had different sizes of the same product. We asked would it be easier if all sizes were grouped together and they all said it would. Now, if you want vodka, you can be completely involved in vodka. It's not bottles in one place, fractionals somewhere else, and cases somewhere else again. All the bottles are together on the fixture and if you want a case they are straight behind you."

Alan says: "The customers found it easier to shop and on top of that we found it easier to replenish because we can fill the case bay up and then use the cases to fill the singles."

Rob says the principles behind the layout also hold good in retail. "When Diageo's sales team are talking to retailers about their layout they can say 'Have a look at Batleys because that's the way it should flow'. If a retailer walks in here and finds it's easy to shop it makes sense that it's easier for their customers to shop a similar layout."

With the project now bedded in, Batleys isn't divulging full details of the results, but it has been a clear success. Martin Race reports there was a double-digit uplift in sales after the implementation.