Meet the retailers and suppliers taking part in the 2012 vintage of Convenience Store’s long-standing Shop Project store makeover initiative

Each year several enthusiastic retailers take part in Convenience Store’s annual Shop Project. It is well established and proven to give invaluable help and advice from a number of leading manufacturers across a broad range of categories - participating retailers find that their turnovers do, indeed, go up.

Not surprisingly, there is a great depth of expertise available from manufacturers - gained from a variety of sources, including consumer interviews, market research, sales analysis and product trialling. But once the Shop Project begins, participating suppliers are reliant on the committed involvement of the participating retailers. It is their professionalism, willingness to take advice and determination to improve their businesses which makes the basic cause and effect formula work - small changes can often create big improvements in sales.

As in recent years, we are working with four independent retailers, all of whom have presented the suppliers with different merchandising opportunities. Each one serves their local community, but two have a degree of passing traffic and there is a geographical contrast in that two are in Yorkshire and two in Suffolk.

Wherever you are trading, you will know that economic conditions remain challenging. Consumers are careful about how - and where - they spend their money. It’s important that every retailer understands customers’ needs.

The largest of our test stores, at almost 3,000sq ft, is J&H Local in the Allerton district of Bradford. Owner Jaswinder Singh and his wife Harbans Kaur are surrounded by a lot of houses, but some customers travel up to five miles to take advantage of the wide range provided, and there is also some passing trade.

Jaswinder and Harbans have traded there for 27 years and really are part of the community. The business has developed hugely over the years due to their hard work and financial investment, and they now have a bright, modern store with ample internal space and on-road parking.

The other Yorkshire outlet is Barlby Village Stores, near Selby, which trades under the Nisa Local symbol. Chris Pollard and his business partner Paul Castle cater for about 1,450 local households, drawing in customers of all ages, including those from nearby schools.

Chris purchased the store 12 years ago and has continued to take every opportunity to improve the level of customer services. One of the most recent innovations was to extend the property at the back and install a pharmacy.

Ann and Carl Foster are relative newcomers to convenience retailing. They purchased Breckland News in Brandon, Suffolk, two years ago, but Ann did have the advantage of working for the previous owner for almost 20 years. The duo run the store with the help of daughter, Sam.

The property is small at about 650sq ft, but they have managed to accommodate an impressive range by making best use of space.

This Mace store is on a busy road and there is restricted parking outside, but it still attracts some passing trade and it is clear that the Fosters have established a friendly environment, with many customers popping in several times a day.

Our final test store is very much a family business. Craig Warren and his brother Colin manage The Corner Stores in Mildenhall, Suffolk, for their semi-retired mother Jeannette.

It is about a mile from the town centre, close to a large pub and school. There is also a solid nucleus of regular customers from nearby houses, and staff are kept on the go from 5.30am, when the preparation of sandwiches and rolls begins.

● You can follow the progress of all the store makeovers in a special supplement to Convenience Store published next March, or view our video presentation at the 2012 National Convenience Show, to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, from March 25-27.■

Bread/morning goods

The Shop Project enables us to share our knowledge and to show retailers that sales in bakery can be improved by regularly reviewing their shopper buying habits and by paying careful attention to fixtures and other high footfall areas.

At Allied Bakeries, we aim to assist retailers with easy-to-action remedies, achieved through a good working relationship between store and supplier.

Beer, lager and cider

Beers, wines and spirits (BWS) form the biggest grocery category in the convenience sector and are key to driving turnover and profit for retailers.

AB InBev, brewer of Stella Artois, Budweiser and Beck’s, is proud to be involved in the Shop Project because the initiative is a great platform for sharing best practice and demonstrating the benefits to be gained from suppliers and retailers working together.

Baby milk/food

Mums spend, on average, 35% more in-store, and baby feeding growth in convenience is outperforming the market, so having a strong baby feeding range will help you to attract these valuable shoppers.

Mums are very brand loyal so stocking the right range and keeping products available are vital. We will share details of the ideal baby milk and food range and layout, and show the impact this can have on sales.

Chilled foods

At Kerry Foods Direct to Store we recognise the opportunity for the convenience channel’s number two category (chilled foods) to grow substantially.

By working with retailers we are helping them unlock this potential, bringing their chiller to life through effective signage and pos, plus merchandising solutions laid to a planogram that makes it easy for shoppers to find what they want.


Working closely with retailers to understand their needs and the needs of their shoppers is very important to Mars. Our key focus for the Shop Project is to use our insight to provide retailers with relevant display solutions and give stores a competitive edge, maximising sales.

Mars, as an expert in confectionery, is in a good place to offer this assistance and we look forward to sharing our results. Yogurts/desserts

The Shop Project stores were chosen because they had the potential to get the most from their yogurt and chilled desserts ranges, both from a point of view of shelf space and location.

The key opportunity was to provide the retailers with advice on the fastest-selling brands and ensure the category is best merchandised to provide the most effective and simplest way for their customers to buy into the category.

Pet food

Pet food sales are worth more than £2bn a year (IRI Total Grocers October 2011). If a product is unavailable, 73% of shoppers will leave without purchasing an alternative (HIM CTP 2009), potentially removing their entire basket spend, so providing the right range is essential.

This project helps demonstrate how the correct range and layout can transform a store’s pet food sales.


Research indicates that shoppers often find the spirits fixture is limited in range and lacking standout. As the fixture generally sits behind the counter, shoppers can feel awkward simply looking at a product, and this encourages clinical purchasing behaviour.

Pernod Ricard UK firmly believes that as a result an opportunity exists for up-selling to the premium sector, delivering benefits for 
all parties.


When consumers are faced with so many options, buying wine can be a stressful process. Pernod Ricard UK believes that getting the range, education and signposting correct are key for retailers.

Declines in the on-trade have led to increased in-home and ‘on show’ occasions - which account for about a third of all premium wine volumes - and so execution of this price tier is critical.

Paper products

SCA joined in the Shop Project to demonstrate how paper product sales can be maximised by offering the right range.

Convenience represents 15% of the total paper market at £221m, and is increasingly being shopped on a little and often basis. Streamlining the range with a format that is easy to navigate will make it easier for shoppers to understand product quality tiers and therefore trade into higher value lines.