Late last year the village store in Stilton, Cambridgeshire, re-opened following a major refit which saw the 1,500sq ft site almost double in size. Owned by Siva Thievanayagam, the Nisa store gives prominence to chilled and off licence, as well as a range of local products. Siva, who owns a number of stores in the Peterborough area under TYS Retail, said the previous store was “outdated and in need of modernising to attract more customers and keep existing customers returning”. Since re-opening sales are up about 20%.
Fresh and chilled
There are now 20 chilled bays, up from 11, plus a deli counter, while the space for chilled alcohol has doubled.
Chilled sales are up since the refit. The deli performance has significantly increased as the store now offers a wider range, including artisan cheese and locally-produced pies and sausage rolls.
Storage space has been converted to create a food preparation and bakery area at the back, and daily operations have been optimised by increasing the size internally.
Ready meals and pizzas sell particularly well. “People do prefer the Heritage products over the Co-op ones, but the best-selling Co-op lines are pre-packed meats,” Siva says.
Customers are impressed with how much bigger the shop feels, with more space to walk around and browse.
Food to go has stepped up a level with a much improved offer in a more visible location, ensuring shoppers are driven to the area when entering the shop.
A hot food-to-go cabinet sits between a Costa machine and Cuisine de France bakery unit. Chilled food to go includes store-made sandwiches and baguettes.
“There is always room for improvement, but as things are we have increased sales month after month as customers like the convenience of fresh food to go,” says Siva.
The redevelopment saw the store, which is housed in a listed building, altered from an L-shape into a rectangle, with the help of Nisa’s format and development team.
The resulting extra room enabled Siva to double the space given to the alcohol section, which now includes an extensive new spirits range which is no longer kept behind the counter.
“The best-sellers are our wide selection of red, white and rosé wines, and in particular the spirits now that they are available without needing to ask a member of staff,” Siva says.
A wide range of ales and craft beers are also on offer, of which many are promoted with a ‘three for £5’ offer.
Meeting high demand
With demand higher than ever during the coronavirus outbreak, the recent installation of self-serve tills was timely. “Queues go down much quicker, younger people like this form of paying for shopping in particular,” Siva says.
Non-food items are in especially high demand at the moment. “Sales of toilet paper, paracetamol, cleaning products, baby formula have all been required to be rationed to a certain amount per customer due to people panic buying, but we have provisions of stock,” he adds.