Sunder Sandher’s new Londis store in Headington is close to Oxford Brookes University campus, so he pulled out all the stops for freshers’ week.
“Throughout the week, we’ve been offering free Tchibo coffee with every purchase of Rustlers and Zugos products, which has been really well received. I’ve got a big banner up outside, as well as POS around the store, telling people about the deal, and posted it on Oxford Brookes’ Facebook site. I missed out on last year’s freshers - they’d already found the nearby Co-op and Waitrose by the time I opened. This year, I’ve got a chance to grab them!
“I’m also running a deal whereby you get a free coffee with every Oxford Mail. Tchibo is supporting this with colour ads in the paper every other day throughout freshers’ week. It’s not just for students, though - everyone from office workers to builders are buying into it.”
“In the run up to September, I’ve been meeting with lots of suppliers. Avtar Mann, account manager at Wanzl, was in recently to see how we’re getting on with the company’s new baskets.
“We’ve also met with Kepak, which has given us a microwave to use with its burgers and paninis. We are just waiting for the stand before we can set it all up.
“I’ve been in talks with Heinz, too, which is looking into a soup dispenser for me. It’s also planning to supply us with tubes of soup where you just add water. Food that is easy to prepare is bound to appeal to students.”
“I’ve recently put my staff on CPL e-learning courses where they log on to a website in their own time and answer multiple choice questions on subjects including first aid, food hygiene, health & safety and underage sales.
“Training on underage sales is very important here as we have so many schools around, so staff really need to be on the ball. When they pass the training they get sent a certificate, which helps to incentivise them.
“I also motivate the team by comparing their sales on particular lines with those at my Leamington Spa store. It’s good to have a bit of friendly competition between the two shops.”
Baskets and trolleys
“I’m always interested in trying out new kit. We used to have baskets with wheels, but they were too deep and we found that staff were on tiptoes trying to empty them, and products lying at the bottom would get squashed.
“We’re now using new lightweight baskets from Wanzl. They’re 26ltr versus the standard 23ltr and are curved so that they accommodate the body, rather than banging against people’s legs. We wanted them ready for freshers’ week because they carry the Londis logo, which is another way of instilling the brand into new customers.
“Customers doing a larger shop use our metal frames with wheels. They can carry two baskets - one above the other - and are very compact compared with a trolley.”
Fresh and chilled
“We’ve installed three new chillers in the past month to enable us to really make the most of impulse shopper missions. The Britvic chiller has allowed us extra room for soft drinks. They were all crammed into a smaller space before, whereas now we can carry more facings of best-selling lines. Our regional sales manager says he’s never seen a store sell so many soft drinks!
“Fruit & veg is also performing well since being moved to a new chiller at the front of the store. I’ve seen a 60% uplift in fruit & veg. It’s one of the first areas people see when they walk through the door, and we’ve been displaying Londis’ new recipe cards there to great effect.
“The fruit & veg is back-to-back with our new sandwiches and chilled snacks chiller. We’re currently selling Londis SuperValu sandwiches as well as baguettes from a local supplier who has his own Wood Farm Bakery. It was recommended to me by my customers. We started off selling £300-worth of local sandwiches a week and now we’re selling £1,200!”
“Certain products are proving especially popular with students. We’re offering multipacks of beer for £10, which is going down well. Multipacks of flavoured cider are in demand as well. My next plan is to install a chiller for the beer multipacks as students don’t have a lot of space in shared fridges. If they can take a whole pack chilled to drink immediately it will suit their needs.
“Cuisine de France products are also big sellers. The £1 pricemark is what really captures attention and the products are in a good position near the hot drinks machine. We’ve had people say that we’re better than the Greggs next door because we keep our products hot all day, rather than leaving them to get cold.
“Quirky drinks have been another big hit with students - our Curiosity Cola and Victorian Lemonade do really well. Now I know that students go for the olde worlde stuff, I’ll keep a look out for more unusual products.
“Another surprise seller is Suma Organics grocery products - lentils and pulses and so on - and its peanut butter flies off the shelf.”