Londis Ascot was recently crowned Off Licence Retailer of the Year at the Convenience Retail Awards in March. Whether it be displaying wine and beer by country of origin, linking associated products, flashmarking premium-priced non-shifters or communicating top sellers and recipe cards, store owner Roli Ranger pulls out all the stops to get the juices flowing. Robin Mannering reports.
Wine is growing at about 10% year on year, which Roli attributes to the clear messaging he has introduced. Merchandising by country of origin, for example, has proved so effective that he has applied the same method to the beer category.
“We started using ‘Great With’ pos to help consumers along. We piloted it with Musgrave after going to them and saying that we needed more pos that was different,” says Roli. Other examples include ‘Great with sausages’, ‘Great with lamb’ and ‘Great for that special occasion’. Pricing is also clearly marked.
For the past couple of years Roli has displayed the current top 10 best-selling wines. “Consumers will come along and think that one’s doing well, probably because it’s on promotion too, so they can make an informed decision,” he says.
To stimulate sales of wines that aren’t selling, Roli uses flashmarking. The stickers give the impression that the wine is on promotion, even though it isn’t. If a bottle is priced at £9.65, he rounds it up to £10, but will round down a £9.25 bottle to £9, so it is a cost-neutral exercise. “But they started shifting. I haven’t got exact figures, these wines weren’t moving and now we’ve had to get new stock in,” he says. The legal compliance is also clearly labelled, such as the Under 25 policy and responsible drinking notices.
Last year Roli designed a number of satellite units to display associated products, the wine of the week and miniature wines. “You’re not using up any extra space and they look nice as well,” he says. “I’ve put the olives here with the red wines, and I also use one to display miniature wines, which were getting lost before” Associated products are another way of assisting the consumer, he adds. “As well as the olives, if someone hasn’t got a bottle opener, it’s here.”
Roli also displays associated products with beer, such as lime and Corona and Desperados. Gourmet peanuts are sold on clip displays alongside Guinness, and Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Snack Mix alongside Fosters. Recipe cards for beer and wine are another thoughtful touch.
Roli recently increased the space for multipack beers and is phasing out single cans. “We were previously selling per can, but we then introduced four-packs. The margin isn’t different but the rate of sale justifies getting rid of single cans,” he says. “Now it’s a four-pack or nothing -it stops the odd person walking in for one can. Now they’ll come in and think ‘I might as well buy a pack’.”
Real ales have come back in fashion and Roli is capitalising on this growth. “Ale sales have probably grown by 20% over the last couple of years,” he says. “Now the adult male is coming in and going to the ale fixture like a kid in a sweet shop. The elderly pensioner likes his ales, and then the worker will come in in the evening and pick something on promotion but he’ll also pick a few ales not on promotion.” Every month he runs a deal, usually a three for £5 offer, while he continually introduces new ales to keep the fixture interesting. He thinks the growing ale trend could be due to pub closure and the fact people are staying in more to save money.