The Channel Islands Co-operative has identified the food-to-go market as an opportunity for development in what it is referring to as “On the Go Plus” internally.
It tested the proposition at its most recent Locale convenience store opening in Colombere on Jersey – a town-centre outlet that is particularly strong on sandwiches.
Kenny McDonald, head of retail operations, said: “It allows us to improve the offering in town-centre stores so we cater for the on-the-go market.
“It has a lot more fresh foods, less of your big-box ambient products and all the white wine and beers are chilled. We see that has an opportunity to develop.”
The business has another store in the centre of St Helier, also on Jersey, that it is currently rebuilding to the “plus” format.
“We are bringing along the latest technology to make those new stores slicker and more in line with what modern retailing environment looks like. We are trying to segment the stores better than we did,” McDonald said.
Food to go was an area in which the society had under-performed so it was improving space allocation to coffee machines, hot food and positioning ambient soft drinks, crisps and confectionery with the food-to-go offer.
McDonald said: “We’ve been more scientific with our understanding of what space to allocate for specific categories and we’ve got access to a lot of analytics and data so that we can use that when we are designing layouts an upgrading stores.”
The Channel Islands Co-op’s space is divided into four Grand Marche supermarkets up to 30,000 sq ft, 15 Locale convenience stores up to 6,000 sq ft – 11 on Jersey and four on Guernsey.
It also has nine petrol stations branded En Route, four of which it classifies as convenience stores “because they just happen to sell petrol”. Five are on Guernsey and two on Jersey.
McDonald hopes to open “a couple more” Locales in the next two years and the co-op has plans currently going to its board about two more petrol sites – one new build and another acquisition.
“We need to increase petrol station coverage to get the volume of fuel up which will allow us to drive the fuel pricing message which is difficult to do when you don’t have the coverage,” said McDonald.