Retailers in Rochdale have faced a minimum journey of at least 12 miles to the nearest cash and carry. Imran Awan spotted the gap in the market and two months ago opened Rochdale Cash & Carry.

Imran was already managing director of Rochdale Drinks Distributors, which his family set up in 1994, so when the warehouse next door became available he decided it would be the perfect for the new business.

Having plenty of experience in trading but little in the kind of layout and merchandising required in a cash and carry, Awan looked to his supplier partners for help and Diageo was one of the first to respond.

He had already planned a separate room for wines, spirits and tobacco and asked Diageo’s account development manager Andy Cunliffe whether he could provide a category approach for the layout of the spirits.

Cunliffe had not had the opportunity to lay out a spirits department from scratch before but felt that with support from Diageo’s category development team, he could come up with a layout that would provide a true category approach and reflect the way retailers should be merchandising their stores. Using data on the top sellers he devised a layout and even filled the shelves himself. In addition he arranged for signposting of the different segments within the spirits category and for posters and leaflets next to each fixture providing category advice to retailers.

Nabeela Awan, a director of the cash and carry, says response has been excellent: “Customers have been coming up to us saying that it is so easy to see all the products and that they want to have a display like it.” So far he has received about 35 inquiries from retailers who would like help laying out their fixtures. These have been passed on to the FWD’s Take Home Blueprint team which can provide unbiased category advice on layout and merchandising of spirits as well as beers and wine. 

Awan says that reps from other spirits companies have also complimented the depot on the layout. “They were a bit worried when they heard it was going to be laid out by one of their competitors, but now they can see it they say it is a very fair category approach.”
Akeel Awan 
Premier, Oldham road, Rochdale

Akeel Awan has a Premier store in Oldham Road, Rochdale. It is a 2,500sq ft supermarket surrounded by chimney pots, but also has a lot of passing trade, with a total of about 7,000 customers a week. 

He says: “Spirits is a good category because people who come in to buy it buy other things too like beer, wine, confectionery and soft drinks.

“I have found that 1.5ltr bottles designed to be used with optics are selling really well. I saw them in the cash and carry and decided to give them a go and now I have the biggest range of any supermarket in Rochdale. A lot of people are installing bars in their houses. With the smoking ban people don’t want to go to bars so they are entertaining their friends at home.

“Premium whisky is also a strong seller. Young Asian men like to drink premium whisky at the weekend and because it’s a prestige thing they are not so concerned about the price.

“What I would like to do next with my spirits is to bring them out from behind my counter.”