Travellers and tradesmen have been drawn to the bustling market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, since Saxon times.

With its picturesque buildings of honey-coloured Cotswold stone, unspoilt countryside and thriving industry, it's easy to see why. And after more than 1,000 years, the historic market town now boasts a new string to it's already well-strung bow - a new supermarket.

However, with its attractive local stone facade, low roofs and landscaped exterior, the 10,000sq ft building is not just any supermarket.

Owned by local independent retailer and self-proclaimed perfectionist Guy Warner, the store - aptly named Warner's Budgens - has become an integral part of the historic town's DNA.

As well as delighting the area's local shoppers with a comprehensive, and in many cases exotic, grocery range, the store is also proving to be a popular tourist attraction thanks largely to its impressive array of artfully displayed local produce. From succulent sausages made from local porks to crunchy asparagus grown in the surrounding fields, Guy's store is a veritable treasure trove of regional produce. A selection of freshly baked breads are delivered daily from a bakery less than two miles away, while the delicatessen counter sells mouthwatering pastry concoctions and chocolate treats from local patisserie Cacao Bean.

Being born and bred in the Gloucestershire region, Guy is almost fanatical about supporting local suppliers, and believes that the partnership is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

"Here at Moreton, we have made a proper commitment to local produce and the suppliers are thriving as a result. Many of them have been able to expand their operations due to increased profitability, which is good news for them and also for the area as a whole as it keeps money in the community."

However, Guy explains that supporting small local producers is not always plain sailing. "If the producer is really tiny, it can be quite difficult to get things moving as their operations are not always set up to deal with larger scale production," he says. "So many producers have fantastic products which just aren't ready to sell." Moreton has just started stocking a new brand of local preserves and Guy has had a mighty job on his hands sorting out barcodes for them. "What we've started to do is run clinics for local producers to help them get their products

shelf-ready."

And fortunately for the community, Guy's commitment to all things local extends well out of the aisles.

As well as actively looking for other businesses in the area to partner with, the store takes its commitments to local charities and good causes very seriously. The team at Moreton have just raised more than £10,000 for CLIC Sargent, a charity which supports children and young people with cancer and their families.

And there's more. Guy has also 'adopted' the local primary school in Moreton and launched a breakfast club which supplies all food and drink for the pupils four days a week.

He is also hoping to improve the minds of Moreton's children with the launch of his very own National Curriculum-based 'Bread' educational module. Children are taught about the bread production process before having a tour of the store where they buy ingredients and then attempt to bake their own. "It's another great way of getting kids and their parents into the store to learn what we're all about," Guy explains.

Fortunately, his commitment to the local community hasn't gone unnoticed - the Moreton store has won a number of awards including the prestigious Best Large Store and the ultimate accolade of Convenience Retailer of the Year at the 2009 Convenience Retailing Awards. Best of all, the store is currently 10% up on last year - fantastic news given the testing trading environment.

And Guy's achievements are all the more astonishing given that he's still only in his mid-Thirties. His career in retail began 13 years ago when he started out in the forecourt business. "The time that I bought my first forecourt store was really interesting in terms of retail history. It was when forecourts were only just starting to expand into convenience, so I was learning a lot as I went along."

And learn he did, because six years later Guy bought a second forecourt store in Tewkesbury. This aquisition was closely followed by the purchase of his first large food store in the neighbouring town of Broadway. "That was where I really cut my teeth in terms of grocery retailing. I was shocked at how different running a food business was compared with a forecourt and my biggest difficulty was getting fresh right. Suddenly, 14% of my mix was fresh and I needed to think about things in a completely different way."

In 2006, a more experienced and confident Guy went on to buy a 6,500 sq ft grocery store in Bidford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, before finally acquiring the 10,000sq ft former Budgens company store at Moreton in 2007. "Bidford was big, but Moreton was an entirely different beast," he says. "The refit needed at Moreton was of a size and a nature that I had never encountered before and at times I admit I found it quite terrifying."

However, Guy clearly overcame his fears, and after a few trials the finished result is a large store that Guy, his team and the community as a whole can be really proud of.

"All stores look good after a refit, but after two years of brisk trade many of them start to look a bit tired. However, I truly believe that Moreton still looks as good today as it did on its first day of trading, and I have my staff to thank for that,"

he says.


A community store


The Moreton store employs 50 local people including manager Jerry Tweney, and Guy says that it is their hard work and dedication that helps keep the store looking tip-top. "All the staff, from cleaners to shelf stackers and till workers, provide consistently high standards and that is a very difficult thing to do."

Another thing which has been very difficult to do in the current economic environment is provide an offer which meets the needs of shoppers looking for value, and for those with more expensive tastes. But Guy has managed to overcome this challenge too.

"We had always carried promotions, but they were never that prominent before. However, if you want shoppers to keep on thinking of you as a good place to do a full weekly shop in the current economic climate, then offering them clear value for money is really important," he says.

As a result, the Moreton store now carries much bolder promotions and a 'Beat the Crunch' campaign. It has also introduced a wide range of products from Budgens' new 'Good Value' label, which sit comfortably alongside the many other premium products

on offer.

"It's a hard balancing act to achieve, but I think we've got it just right. We've now got the range to cater for everyone."

This delicate mix is extended throughout the store, from the mundane but necessary household cleaning aisles, through to the theatrical wood-panelled 'wine cellar' where shoppers can pick up a bottle of red for under a fiver or splash out on a super-premium bottle of Champagne.

With the future looking so rosy for Guy and his team, we're sure they'll be popping plenty more of those soon.
shop profile
Warner's Budgens

Moreton-in-Marsh

Established: July 2007

Size: 10,000sq ft

Staff: 50 members

Average Basket Spend: £14

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