It’s been nine months now since we officially re-opened our new, much larger store and there are still many lessons we learned during the process that are valuable today.
In the initial stages of the building we closed off part of the store, which meant a lot less space, so we had to make s decisions about the range we stocked. But the first surprise was that when we reduced the sales space by 20%, it had no effect at all on sales. Even when we reduced the space by a further 40% later on our sales only dropped by 20%. In other words, cutting down the space by 60% only led to a 20% loss in sales.
So the first lesson we learned was that we were probably over-ranged. As a business we get rid of slow-moving lines all the time, but it is only when you do a major exercise like this you realise just how much dead wood there can be.
The key question, though, is where do we kill the range? Like many retailers we work on the ABC principle, whereby A is the core range, then if we have more room we stock the B lines, and then add the C lines if we have 3m or more to work with.
We tried to approach planning our new store scientifically, and in our case Musgrave had a view on how much space we should have for chilled products, BWS and so on for a given size store. We recognise that it’s not an exact science, but some data is obviously useful, and we could see that some categories had far too much space for the sales they were generating, so we cut it back.
Our alcohol range was definitely over-ranged in the old store and had bottles gathering dust. Our new range has more facings for the key brands, and is easier to navigate - and we haven’t had a reduction in sales at all.
Our old tobacco gantry was 2m and we’ve got a 1.75m one in the new store. We also cut back on the space given to the core confectionery range, and news & magazines.
As a store, we are 20-30% up and sales growth is coming from other categories, particularly the ones we invested in heavily like fresh and chilled and food to go. So it just goes to show you can never rest on your laurels, you always have to be looking for the next thing, and be aware of the changes that are happening with what customers want. And sometimes, less is certainly more.