The decision to be part of a symbol can be tough for any independent, but Manish Jadav didn’t think twice. Aidan Fortune reports.
Living up your independence isn’t a decision to be taken lightly by any retailer, but Manish Jadav had no doubts when he was offered the chance to be the first to take on a new fascia from a leading wholesaler.
His Woodside Stores in Bradford became the first to join Parfett’s Go Local Extra symbol group last summer, before the fascia was rolled out last year.
Manish had been running the unaffiliated store for about three years before he was approached by Parfett’s. He explains why he wanted the change: “When we took over the store, there was no flow to the store layout and it was in need of a makeover. We wanted to step up our offering and joining a group seemed to be the right way to go about it.”
A regular Parfett’s customer, Manish says it was an easy decision to sign up to its new fascia. “I’ve always had a good relationship with Parfett’s and we feel their promotions suit our local area,” he explains. “We also like the flexibility they offer us as they’ll often offer promotions based on our recommendations, which works out very well for us.”
In fact, promotions are key to the success of the store and Manish makes sure to keep on top of the rotating offers, using bright displays at the end of each aisle to highlight the deals. “The promotions rotate every four weeks and in any given rotation there will be more than 30, so all categories will be covered,” he says. “Obviously, margins are tightened when there’s a promotion, but we’ll make that loss up on other products in the store. Customers will only see the promotional prices and overlook the other areas so it all balances out.”
Manish isn’t short of competition in his area. His housing estate location means he’s surrounded by other stores, and so the promotions come in handy in fighting his corner. “There’s a Tesco and an Aldi just up the road, plus several other convenience stores nearby, so I have to be able to offer good value to my customers,” he asserts.
M&A Convenience Store,
Staffing: five part-time
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7.30am-10pm Saturday 9am-10pm Sunday 10am-10pm
Additional Services: ATM, Bake & Bite, National Lottery
As well as providing strong promotions to attract customers, Parfett’s worked with Manish to help him redesign the store. They made a decision to have wider aisles rather than cram in an extra set of shelves. “We could have put another aisle in the store, but we didn’t want it to be claustrophobic for customers,” says Manish. “We’re at the right level now as regards range, and the open-plan store creates a nice atmosphere for customers.”
Along with improving the store’s look, the positioning of product categories was also rethought. “We wanted to create a store that had a natural flow to it so that customers would be inclined to walk through and fill their baskets,” he says. “It moves from chilled drinks to ambient grocery, and then onto fresh and chilled, before the alcohol section - which is quite often the most popular section of the store.”
Now he’s got the store looking its best, it’s a case of tweaking it to match his customers’ needs. “We’re a convenience store not a supermarket and we know that customers are coming to us to top up rather than doing their big shop,” he acknowledges. “That’s fine by us. We make sure that we offer the best prices on alcohol with plenty of promotions so when customers come to us they’ll never just buy one thing when they’re in - they’ll pick up some snacks as well on impulse, which increases basket spend.”
He also adopts a smarter approach to attracting customers. “We offer the personal service the multiples don’t, plus we make ourselves available when they’re not,” says Manish. “We were the only store in the area to open on Christmas Day, which was great for us because customers still needed groceries, but the multiples were closed. Those new customers still shop with us because we were there when they needed us.”
Kids make up a significant percentage of the customer base so Manish has a large snacks and confectionery display. Birthday cards also do well. “With so many kids in the area, it’s always someone’s birthday, so it’s important to have a good selection of cards,” he says.
Another winner is the Kepak microwave. “It’s gone down really well with kids, especially after school. We sell about five cases of the quarter pounders alone every week,” Mannish reports.
But doesn’t having so many kids in the area create hassles? “We’ve been here three years and have never had any trouble,” he replies. “We have a good relationship with the kids, and it probably helps that I’m a bit younger than other retailers around so can relate to them a bit better.”
That the local community centre is across the road from the store plays to his advantage, too. “I help them out whenever I can with donations and promoting events that are taking place at it,” he says. “It works both ways actually, as when it snowed earlier this year they cleared the snow from the front of the shop before I arrived without me even asking them.”
Manish hopes to forge greater links with the community by making use of an empty grassy patch behind the store. “It’s a shame for it to go to waste,” he says. “When the weather gets better we’ll look into seeing if we can turn it into an allotment so that local children can grow vegetables that they can sell in the store. I think it’ll be a great addition.”
As well as strengthening his relationship with the local community, Manish has more plans for the store. “We’re looking at how we can provide a solid fruit and veg offering,” he says. “It’s a tricky one for us with so much competition nearby and we don’t want to be caught out with wastage.”
He is also hoping to increase the number of meal deals and big night in offerings. “We currently have a DVD display which does quite well, especially at the weekend with couples,” says Manish. “When we combine that with a bottle of wine or maybe a curry meal people really go for it. We’re looking at ways of expanding on that.”
With the success of the Kepak microwave, his snacks offering also holds potential. “The Bake & Bite food-to-go unit was moved to the front of the store near the till as it was a bit lost at the back,” he says. “It’s doing great now and we’re going to install a hot beverage machine, which I think will be a perfect fit for the store.”
Does Manish ever feel that he made the wrong decision about joining Go Local Extra? “Never,” he states. “Turnover has increased by 20% since we joined the Go Local Extra fascia and it has made us more focused. Plus customers have really embraced the changes. I’d definitely recommend it to any retailer who wants to take the next step with their business.”
There’s no looking back for Manish. •