Having recently attended the National Convenience Show (NCS) and the Association of Convenience Store’s Summit, Dennis and I have returned brimming with ideas. There’s no doubt that events such as these really do inspire you.

The message from both the show and the Summit was loud and clear: chilled and fresh are driving sales in convenience, and that’s globally, not just in the UK.

Although we have what most stores would consider a pretty good chilled offering, we have decided to do a major refit, bringing the focus of the whole store on to this category. This will mean a big investment in chillers and a complete reorganisation as we are planning to bring the chilled and fresh food from the rear right to the front.

We are also hoping to create more space by drilling down into the sales of each department, and we are confident that we can eliminate a lot of slower-selling lines without damaging sales. This will be particularly evident in ambient grocery, where sales have slowed of late. The move should allow us to install an in-store bakery, something we’ve never had space for before.

Despite all our campaigning we are still faced with the prospect of an Aldi opening up a stone’s throw away. While it could be argued that it might be more sensible to watch the pennies, we think now is the right time to invest in our business. As scores of retailers have demonstrated, you can thrive alongside the multiples if you concentrate on your strengths, so we intend to present our customers with the brightest, most inviting environment we can, backed up by the excellent customer service which only a truly local independent can provide.