Today’s Group wholesalers are targeting larger stores with a recruitment drive to build on the successful recent expansion of its retail membership.

The group is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and its affiliated retailer estate has increased by 10% over the past year, to stand at 460 symbol stores and just over 2,000 retail club members. The group is targeting bigger stores that can accommodate a wider convenience range for its next wave, with chilled and food to go products offering bigger baskets for shoppers a key focus. Enhanced guidance for chilled and frozen products is being offered, while recommended ranges are being adapted depending on the size and format of the store.

Retail director John Kinney told C-Store: “Range compliance is important for us, but we need to be sensible about what small stores can do. We recognise that our Plan for Profit range is not easily achievable for very small stores, so we are re-segmenting our stores based on shopper missions, and coming up with a more appropriate range.

“The more we can provide good, correct advice, the more our retailers will trust us and that will cement the membership. Some small stores will always be impulse-based while others might be drinks-based, and having lots of chilled is just not right for them.”

Kinney said that further support would go into ensuring retailers’ margins are not eroded this year.

“We have to be careful retailers don’t sleepwalk into losing money,” he said. “With challenges like the National Living Wage we need to find ways to grow sales and, while pricemarked packs have been good for the sector, we have to be sensible about protecting margins too so we need to ensure retailers are given the option of standard packs too.”

The group’s digital operations are “working well”, added Kinney. Five depots are trialling digital coupons and beacons, with digital voucher redemption running at 30% compared to 1% for paper. In addition, 3,000 retailers a month visit the website, and the ordering app has been downloaded 5,000 times.

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