It’s time to meet the latest group of retailers and suppliers who are taking part in C-Store’s annual store makeover project

Convenience Store’s annual Shop Project is tried and tested and highly effective. Each year a set of enthusiastic retailers is given invaluable help and advice by leading manufacturers across a broad range of categories and each year the turnover at those stores goes up.

Monitoring store performance

Convenience Store is working with epos specialist PCMS to measure sales prior to the makeover and then for two months following the changes. 

Data analysis and advice on contract strategies to FMCG companies across most categories, is analysing the sales data. FCRS provides an unbiased measurement of the sales uplifts that result from contract activity. 

For more details, call 07971 291067 or email

Behind this established formula for success there is a tremendous depth of manufacturer knowledge which has been gained from market research, consumer interviews, sales analysis and product trialling. Once the Shop Project begins, these suppliers then need the open-minded involvement of the participating retailers.

We are once more working with four independent retailers, all of whom have presented the suppliers with different merchandising opportunities. The locations of the four stores are varied, too, from busy high street to rural retreat. But, most importantly, all the retailers involved in this year’s project have expressed a willingness to listen to new ideas and take advice.

First up are Balasubramaniam Ganeshalingam and Sangarapillai Rajenthiran (very happy to be known as Ganesh and Raj). They have built up a friendly relationship with customers of their busy high street Costcutter store in Bexley, south London.

They have a committed team of staff and have been running their business next to Bexley railway station for 16 years. Naturally, commuters account for an important slice of turnover, but the store has a lively buzz about it all through the day.

At more than 1,500sq ft, it is the largest of the four stores, but although each category had plenty of well-stocked shelf space, Ganesh and Raj accepted that there were opportunities to try some different lines and make more on-shelf impact.

Pat and Polly Patel have been trading in Bishop’s Waltham, near Southampton, for 23 years and their Newtown Stores now has a Londis fascia. It used to have a post office as well, but when that part of their business was withdrawn the Patels decided to invest in an extension to replace it.

The store is on the outskirts of Bishop’s Waltham, an old market town, and enjoys a bright, bustling ambience. It is frequented by customers of all ages and there is some passing trade.

Further to the south west in Three Legged Cross, near Wimborne, Dorset, Manj and Harj Aujla are relative newcomers to retail, although both have families with a convenience trading background. They were especially keen to hear what manufacturers had to say about their Village Express store which is located on a busy countryside route.

The closure of the next-door pub and difficulties with parking facilities have posed recent challenges for this young couple, but they are determined to increase turnover by appealing to a broad spectrum of tourists, holiday-makers, builders, pensioners and young families.

The final store involved in the Shop Project is the Kwikmart Post Office in the village of Copthorne, close to Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

Depesh Patel, who previously worked for a bank, is now part of the family business established by his parents. His mother, Meena Amin, is still fully involved and so is Depesh’s wife, Ragini. At one time his parents ran forecourt stores in the USA and Depesh spent some time there as a youngster.

The post office acts as a constant source of foot traffic and there is a school bus stop just yards away from the store. Depesh also organises 10 paper rounds a day, serving about 100 houses.

l 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 National Convenience Show, to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, which runs from February 27-March 1, 2011. 

Britvic Soft Drinks 
Britvic Soft Drinks’ involvement is part of our commitment to deliver fresh ideas to refreshment. It is paramount that we give consumers the best possible in-store experience and provide them with compelling reasons to shop there. We will be sharing our expertise and showcasing solutions to help drive sustainable growth for soft drinks in convenience. 

At Diageo we believe there is a strong opportunity to increase the value of the spirits category clearly retailers agree because 36% of independents surveyed in a Knowledge Store poll stated that beers, wines and spirits was the category with the most potential for growth. The activities we have implemented in the Shop Project demonstrate solutions developed to help maximise sales potential for retailers. 

Fox’s Biscuits 
The biscuit category is worth £344m in the convenience sector and sweet biscuit sales are growing faster in convenience than in the total market. Biscuits are a strong impulse purchase and Fox’s main aim for the project is to both use its knowledge of this sector to help shop owners drive better sales and to gain a better understanding of this sector and specific store formats. 

Heineken UK  
Heineken UK is firmly committed to supporting retailers to drive maximum value through their beer and cider fixtures. The Shop Project offers the opportunity to share simple, practical advice. The basic principles are to keep a tight range of big brands in the chillers, with good availability over evenings and weekends to ensure shoppers can find what they are looking for quickly. 

Kerry Foods 
The total chilled category is worth £21.5bn (AC Nielsen September 2010) and is a key category driver for convenience shoppers. Kerry Foods aims to demonstrate that retailers can achieve growth by focusing on a few key principles: range; and making chilled easier to shop through clear category segmentation and display. The Shop Project is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate Kerry Foods’ expertise. 

Mars Chocolate 
At Mars, we know that maximising space is a key issue for retailers. Smaller stores need to maximise sales by installing additional confectionery sites at key areas such as the till point; larger stores can benefit from creating areas of in-store theatre during key seasonal events such as Easter; and stores of all sizes should be stocking best-selling lines and driving a strong return from the space available. 

Nestle Purina 
Pet food sales are worth more than £2bn a year in the UK. If a product is unavailable, 73% of shoppers will leave the store potentially taking their entire basket spend with them! So the right range is essential. Nestlé Purina Petcare is committed to driving pet food in the convenience sector. This project helps demonstrate how the correct range and layout can transform a store’s pet food sales. 

Premier Foods 
Building on the success of last year’s project, Premier Foods is bringing together bread, morning goods and cake to present a joined-up view of bakery in convenience. For bread and morning goods, the aim is to broaden the range on offer, taking advantage of incremental purchases such as crumpets and pancakes. In cake, it’s about stocking the right range and, most importantly, segmenting by occasion. 

Stocking the right baby milk is vital, with such high brand loyalty that 80% of shoppers will leave if their favoured brand isn’t available (Nunwood, 2009). Mums are important shoppers, too, spending 50% more than the average shopper (Kantar, 2008). The project has focused on baby milk, but expect a halo effect on total baby through merchandising and space management recommendations.

Crisps, snacks and nuts is the second most impulsive category with 43% of shoppers selecting products without even visiting the main fixtures. Secondary displays are therefore essential. This project will demonstrate how retailers can use effective category management, including promotions, secondary sitings and impactful pos, to make the most of this growing category.