Morrisons will be opening a new M Local in a former Blockbuster store just down the road from us in a couple of weeks. Sundays after 4pm has always been the best time for our store as we’re the only one open, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes, but I’m ready for the competition and I’m prepared to roll my sleeves up to make sure I don’t see a drop in sales.
By the time M Local is ready we’ll have 24-hour opening in place, so even if we lose sales in some areas we should be able to make it up in others. Our suppliers have been great - we’ll have some offers for customers such as £10 bottles of wine for £5 and a free 18ml sample with the purchase of a larger bottle. We’ll also be giving away a free sausage roll with each purchase of the Oxford Mail, which will be advertised in the paper.
We’ve also got some great new units from Britvic as part of a project we’re doing with Convenience Store - one for merchandising chilled drinks and crisps together, and another with a value proposition - and both are already doing really well.
While it is dangerous to sit back and think that nothing is going to happen, I do believe that as we are an impulse-based store, Morrisons - with its focus on fresh and meal solutions - might not affect us too much.
I’ve asked customers what they think and they say we’re in such a great location that they will continue to use us. The M Local is stuck next door to a Shell petrol station and is not as prominent as our store. Our staff are second-to-none, too. M Local will be using all-new staff, so I’m confident we can beat them on service.
Londis is also sending a marketing team down here to help us market the store better, and added to that I’m going to use my 30 years of experience to make sure that I keep my levels of custom.
So, I’m ready for them, and we’ll see what happens. It’s not about beating M Local on price, it’s about making sure your service and standards are up to scratch and that you have good offers. In our case we’ll be looking at promotions such as daily welcome deals for students.
For any other retailer in this situation where a multiple is opening nearby, my advice is this: be proactive, and also talk to your wholesaler and other suppliers as they will be able to help you.