James Stead, manager of White’s Calver (Spar), in Hope Valley, Derbyshire, says sales of premium ready meals and spirits have increased dramatically after a recent range refresh.

He said: “We’ve just finished moving and re-merchandising a few things in the store. We had Spar come in to have a look at all the categories and decide where we needed to cut down or extend our range.

“The main aim was to improve sales ready for the New Year and we focused particularly on fresh lines, bringing in some gourmet chilled ready meals to complement our frozen offer. As a result, we’ve successfully made our range more premium for customers.

“Another category that has benefited from the refresh is our spirits range, with sales increasing by 200% after we extended the offer to two metres of shelving. The quality gins and locally brewed lines have driven most of the growth and sales have continued to climb, despite it being Dry January.

“I think people buy gins because they make a good present. We sell gift bags alongside our gins so shoppers can buy them as a pair together. We are expecting to sell lots of both as we get closer to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”

Star performers: “We haven’t lost out on any of the categories that we have increased or decreased but fresh and alcohol have to be the two areas that have benefited the most.”

Successful NPD

“Some of the new premium Christmas chocolates from Thorntons did really well for us last month. We’ve actually been left with some of the cheaper stuff to sell off - all of the higher priced festive lines have gone.”

Thorntons expanded its festive offering last year, adding a Thorntons Pearls duo to its portfolio. Available in salted caramel; and nutty crunch flavours, the duo is sold in 167g (rrp £4.99).

The company also added a new Cheeky Elf character to its range of novelty figures and the Thorntons Continental line-up received a new pack design, available in dark; and Christmas variants.

All of the products were backed by Thorntons’ ‘Pass the Love On’ campaign, with a £2.4m investment across TV, video-on-demand, press, social media and in-store activity.