Peter Woods invested £125,000 in converting a former Blockbuster site in the market town of Halstead, Essex, into a modern Costcutter store equipped with the latest energy-saving technology. The store opened its doors last summer and, despite competing against a nearby Co-op and Sainsbury’s, has seen turnover increase from about £15,000 to £21,000 to date. The opening also coincided with Costcutter’s move to P&H deliveries, which have improved significantly since early problems, while the new Independent range has won over his customers, who can also enjoy a range of local products including bespoke ready meals.
Peter installed chillers with doors throughout the store to accommodate white wine and beer, as well as soft drinks, sandwiches and fresh meat. LED lighting is also used across the store, with the aim of saving about 50% on energy bills.
The off licence offers a wide selection of wines and beers, including a fixture of UK ales, while ‘Savings Zones’ at the front of the store display offers on wine and beer, as well as grocery items.
The locally-produced Dine In ready meals, displayed in a bespoke freezer, are proving popular. Peter is in the process of setting up a meal deal, which would include two mains and a bottle of wine for £10. “We try to stock local products where we can,” he adds. ”There’s a market across the road which sells local sausages twice a week and we sell those.”
COSTCUTTER OWN LABEL
The Independent range is coming on “leaps and bounds” after a slow start, says Peter. “People notice the name more now that we’re doing the fresh meat and fruit & veg.” He says customers rate the quality of the product, especially at his other store in Hockley, where his customers were used to Nisa’s Heritage range. “Now people say it’s as good, if not better, with certain products.”
The macaroni cheese. ready meals and premium sausages are the standouts, says Peter, while the fresh meat and pasta ranges are also “really popular”.
Delivery problems are “not fixed by any means”, but Peter enjoys the six tri-temperature deliveries a week “which we wouldn’t have got with Nisa”. He says Costcutter isn’t far off its promise of a 5% margin rise on Nisa; margins are hovering just under 22%.
FOOD TO GO
A Tchibo coffee machine sits at the front of the store, alongside food to go, bakery and papers. “I’ve just ordered a Rustlers stand with a microwave so we can keep food to go going until evening,” Peter says.
“It’s amazing how Rollover hot dogs are doing,” says Peter. “I didn’t think their sales estimates were feasible, but they were right and I was wrong.” He is currently selling about 150 a week.
A free-to-use ATM will soon be joined by a lottery terminal. Peter would like to offer Collect +, too, which has taken off at his other store. He is also waiting for Costcutter IT to build a click and collect platform.
The store is housed in a double-fronted listed building with two large windows, which Peter utilises fully for marketing. All the categories and services are neatly advertised beside the door.