East Sussex independent Jempson’s opened its second Local c-store in September, in Wadhurst. Established in 1935, the family-run business operates three supermarkets in the county, but this year expanded into convenience with a 1,500sq ft store in Northiam in March, followed by the 4,500sq ft Jempson’s Local store in Wadhurst. The store puts a strong emphasis on local, fresh and food to go. Sales have reached 70% of the first year target and basket spend is “north of expectations” at just under £8.50, say joint managing directors Andrew and Stephen Jempson.
Food to go
It is the first time that joint managing director Stephen and Andrew Jempson have introduced food to go inside a store. The offer includes a range of pies, pasties and cakes, as well as Jempson’s-branded coffee machine serving cups at £1.50. “The days of push button instant coffee are gone,” says Stephen. Food to go is growing all the time, driven by demand from the college down the road.
The store devotes “a lot of space” to bread and cake, which are all homemade, says Stephen. “We’re on a mission to get people to buy real loaves of bread – a lot of young people don’t know what it’s like.” It appears they are achieving their objective, with customers snapping up the freshly-made bread. “We only sell about two loaves of Kingsmill a day. It’s indicative of the type of customers we have,” says manager Stuart.
Most of the fresh meat is sourced from Kent and Sussex. It is then prepared and packed in the Peasmarsh store and sent out to the other stores within 24 hours.
Jempson’s is a Nisa member so stocks its Heritage range, including meat products, “which works very well for us and complements the local range,” Stephen says. “We’re very happy with Nisa; it’s the best route to market for independent retailers, absolutely without question.”
Fruit and Veg
Fresh fruit and veg is merchandised a little differently, with produce displayed on trestle tables. “We’re trying to start something completely different and quirky,” says Stephen.
The store highlights some of the local suppliers, such as the ‘Apple Men’, who grow apples just a mile away from the Peasmarsh supermarket. Locally-sourced produce can be ordered at 4pm and delivered at 7am the following morning. The fresh produce bought from Nisa is delivered six days a week.
Local suppliers are used for Jempson’s own-brand range, which includes jams, condiments and cooking sauces. The group works with 58 local suppliers across all categories, including beer and wine. “We knew we couldn’t trade like Sainsbury’s and Tesco; we needed to focus on our ‘Local Heroes’,” explains Stephen.
The company communicates its history and independent values via an in-store board. Its tradition and family name is a key point of difference, says Stephen. Working with trusted local suppliers and its non-typical opening hours are examples. “People respect the fact we don’t work Sundays – they associate it with the brand,” points out Stephen.
Grocery and value
The store communicates value, too, although the brothers admit to keeping a close eye on ambient. “People in Wadhurst don’t like mushy peas too much! They really want haricot beans,” Stephen jokes. They are also starting a gluten-free section after receiving numerous requests. Twenty lines have been ordered.
“In terms of refrigeration, it’s all the latest technology,” says Stephen. The store’s eco credentials are communicated on chillers in an imaginative and effective way – comparing the energy savings of the chillers with doors to flights to Sydney.
White wine is kept in chillers located around the store, while red wine is housed in attractive crates.