Convenience chain My Local has started a complete category-by-category review of its range as it looks to refine its customer offer and increase sales.
The chain had a difficult start in September when a disagreement with the vendor Morrisons saw the multiple grocer pull all stock from the shelves of the stores. With the urgent priority to fill the shelves and maintain availability throughout Christmas, work on product range and selection by trading format was delayed until the new year. As a result, the chain currently has listings for 8,500 skus, well above its optimum target of 5,000.
However, now is the time for suppliers to work with and invest in the chain, chief executive Mike Greene told manufacturers at the group’s first supplier conference in Leeds last week.
“We have reached base camp, and there is still loads of opportunity,” he said. “We want to climb this mountain together, and be the best c-store chain in the UK. Not just in terms of sales and profits, but in terms of discipline, delivery of what we promise and mutual opportunity.”
Within the 128-strong estate, 54 stores have been identified as having a neighbourhood format, with 24 as city centre, and 50 as transient. Ranges for each format will be refined, with particular focus given to developing the fresh, local and food to go propositions. Category reviews have already begun for fruit and veg, confectionery, snacks and soft drinks, with beer and cider, chilled food, biscuits, bakery and food to go to follow shortly afterwards.
Sales are currently below the levels achieved under Morrisons ownership, but have been growing by 2% per week during January, according to the chain. Basket spend has also grown to over £5, and Nathaniel Meyohas of owners Greybull Capital maintained that: “we deploy private capital into private businesses, so it’s all about the long-term”.
Greene added: “We’ve inherited stores from Morrisons that are over-spec’d. The average spend was £750,000 per store, so they have great refrigeration, IT, and self-checkouts for us to work with.”
A programme of community-based special events at 60 stores will start later this month as a key component of generating local customer interest.