TALKBACK

Retailer: Steve Mew, manager of Budgens store in Midhurst, West Sussex

Fresh strategy: for the last nine months several Budgens stores in Sussex have linked up with the local food group, A Taste of Sussex, to stock a range of local products.

At the moment Steve’s store has 114 local lines including prepacked back and streaky bacon; a range of sausages; nine varieties of cheese, from a producer in The Weald; and ambient lines such as cakes.
Steve says: “It’s quite spectacular, the difference that stocking local lines has made to our sales and also to the suppliers themselves. Sales have really increased - more than I ever expected. We’re selling large quantities of chilled bacon and sausages.

“However, the biggest bonus for me, in selling local products, is having the one-to-one contact with the supplier. They get the benefit of my advice on perhaps what sells best and I get to sell local products. Small suppliers are very open to suggestions. It’s a reciprocal relationship that you don’t get with large suppliers.”
Customers really like to buy local products because they can identify with them and they’re helping to support local producers. “It’s not a price issue for customers either,” Steve adds. “If a product is good they’ll buy it at any cost.

“Products are branded with the producer’s name but are merchandised in a dedicated ‘A Taste of Sussex’ fixture. We use shelf strips, shelf barkers and posters, as with any other product, to promote the range. All pos is part-funded by us and the producer. It’s all about working together.”

Steve reviews the range every year and keeps his eye on new products that are generally reviewed after six months. “I’m about to review the chilled and fresh range and I’ll probably extend the bacon and sausage ranges. I think any retailer could benefit from stocking locally-produced products, wherever they are geographically and whoever their customers are.”

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