Dave Hiscutt, manager of Londis Westham Road in Weymouth, has hailed the impact of a dessert and waffle bar installed in his town centre store over the summer.
Working alongside the store’s owner Steve Bassett and Booker, the Cool Desserts Co. bar offers customers a selection of desserts including fresh cakes, pancakes, ice creams and waffles.
Two weeks on since opening, Dave is already pleased with the margins and sales he is making from the range.
“It’s still early days but our new cake counter, which we have positioned alongside the main dessert counter, already does £200 per day and margins are at least 50% or more which is very good for us,” he said.
“I think c-stores need to move into foodservice areas because customers don’t just expect groceries from us anymore. Our store is located right in the centre of a busy seaside town so there is a lot of competition for us to deal with.”
To stay ahead of the competition, the Westham Road store has been refreshed in recent months to prepare for the opening of the new dessert bar. The improvements include new signage, a reduced grocery range and updated drinks offer.
“It has been nearly 10 years since the store was last refitted so it made sense to make some changes while we got the dessert bar set up,” Dave continued. “We now have an area dedicated to dispensed drinks like F’real, slush and Tango Ice Blast and this works better alongside the dessert bar.
“To make space for the new unit, we had to be ruthless in cutting back our grocery lines and using Epos data to stock only the best sellers. We took a Lidl-style approach - keeping a choice of one or maybe two types of tomato ketchup on shelf for example.”
Dave also made changes to the front of the Weymouth store to make sure customers were aware of all the new additions.
He added: “We changed the signage at the front of the store so people can see where the dessert bar is and even watch all the yum yums and cream cakes being made by hand from outside the store.
“We’ve run an external ice cream parlour in the summer for many years now but we only open it in the summer. The new dessert bar allows us to offer a complete range of sweet treats all year round that appeals to local customers and tourists.”
The ability to turn seasonal products into an everyday purchase was a factor in Dave opting to install the dessert bar in the first place. He also visited an award-winning retailer in Scotland for inspiration.
“We have been looking at a dessert bar option for some time and had heard about Booker’s plans for stores in London,” Dave said. “Steve and I also travelled up to Scotland for a study tour of Mo Razzaq’s Family Shopper store and when we saw his offer we knew it was something we could do something similar in our store.
“We are still tracking all the data and in the process of creating our own promotions and doing some local marketing but we are very happy with the results so far. We know there is so much opportunity to take things further. We are looking to add breakfast pancakes to the menu with fruit so we offer people something a bit different than your regular desserts.”