The final article in our series about the spirits market looks at how anti-theft kits can give you the confidence to put a good range of products in full view of consumers

30-minute makeover
Range-Create a core range of vodka, blended whisky, brandy, gin, rum and liqueurs & specialities 

Layout-Position the best-selling products which tend to be vodka and blended whisky at eye level 

Free your spirits-By adopting security caps, you can put bottles of spirits on display in the store with confidence 

Communicate-Use pos material to highlight your range and encourage shoppers to buy mixers with every spirit purchase.
Previous issues of C-Store have given an insight into the spirits category and suggested a suitable range of bottles and pre-mix cans to satisfy most consumer needs.

But the potential of any range can only be maximised if products are displayed in a way that is friendly and appealing to shoppers, while at the same time protecting retailers' profits.

With these twin objectives in mind, spirits supplier Diageo last year launched the Free Your Spirits (FYS) campaign, which distributed free anti-theft kits to independent retailers.

The kits consist of security caps and a magnetic detacher, which is kept at the counter. The bottles are fitted with security caps and cannot be opened without removing the cap first, meaning that shoplifters have nothing to gain.

This allows retailers to display spirits in the main body of the store instead of the traditional area behind the counter, and this in turn breaks down barriers to purchase and therefore maximises sales.

Initial trials proved extremely successful. A test programme through Premier stores showed an average sales uplift of 39% across a sample of 247 shops. The scheme's predecessor, which ran from 2006-9 and was co-ordinated by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors under the name of PLOD, recorded similar sales increases.

Independent retailer Holborn's, which has two stores in Redhill and South Nutfield in Surrey, has been using the FYS kits for a year.

Partner Russell Holborn told C-Store: "It's definitely helped. Sales have held up well at a time when the market's been tough.

"The old style of retailing has spirits behind the counter, but there are always going to be some people who don't like to ask, so you know you aren't getting the sales that you could."

Russell believes that the system prevents stock from being shoplifted. "There's no doubt it's a deterrent," he says. "People know they can't open the bottle without smashing it. I can't recall us losing a single bottle in the past year.

"It's also very straightforward to put the caps on and remove them when a sale has been made. We trained our staff and they all took to it straight away."

And there are other benefits, too, as the Holborn family found when they re-organised the shop. "In a small store you are always juggling your space. We increased our pharmacy range behind the counter, and putting the spirits out on display enabled us to move the ice cream freezer nearer, which has helped us get more impulse sales."

Free Your Spirits is part of Diageo's four-step plan designed to increase spirits sales in the convenience sector. The first element is to select the right range (see C-Store, September 3), the second is to create a logical layout with the leading brands at eye level, with the introduction of the FYS security caps as the third part. The final part is to communicate the spirits offer to customers through the use of pos material, and in particular to encourage sales of mixers, adding yet another item to shoppers' baskets.

Diageo has recruited about 3,000 stores into the scheme, and kits are still available. For more information on the Free Your Spirits programme, call Diageo's hotline on 0845 602 5832. Kits containing 48 caps and one detacher are free to eligible stores..