Shoppers in the quaint Hampshire village of Overton are flocking back to the Southern Co-operative’s community store following a 10-day closure while a significant refurbishment was carried out. The 26-year-old 2,995sq ft new-look store now offers a much wider range of chilled local produce, while its energy-saving credentials have been maximised with a raft of high-impact efficiency improvements. A fifth till and free-to-use cash machine have also improved service for customers. The society has been careful to ensure that the building’s traditional-looking facade was maintained, in keeping with the character of the village.
- Hinge-opening glass doors have been retrofitted on to chillers. The move, which is explained to shoppers via interesting graphics, has created a more comfortable shopping environment and is slashing energy usage.
- A smart energy management system turns drinks chillers off once the store is closed and the compressors have finished their cycle.
- All of the store’s overhead lighting and chiller lights have been converted to LED, which is 60% more efficient than the previous florescent tubes. The light quality is warm and welcoming and helps to show products off at their best.
- Eye-catching ceiling tiles also communicate the store’s energy-saving credentials and make the shopping experience more interesting for customers.
A queue management system has been installed to help improve customer flow in peak periods. Locally-made impulse snacks and treats have been added to the queuing area, alongside TV guides and magazines for women and children - the store’s best-selling magazine categories. Lads’ mags which are not sold in sealed modesty bags have now been removed from sale as part of a wider Co-operative Retail Trading Group policy.
Delicious aromas waft across the store from its new open-plan in-store bakery, while ovens are also linked up to the smart energy management system, enabling them to operate as efficiently as possible. LED lighting with white-yellow or red-brown tones enhances the colour of bread and pastries, making the products even more appetising.
The store’s range of locally-made products has been extended by a third, with chilled local goods now including fresh vegetables, cheeses and pâtés. According to local category manager Kate Hibbert (pictured below, right with chief operating officer Phil Ponsonby and team member Barbara), “staple groceries with a bit of an edge are those that sell best”.
Local products are grouped together by ambient, chilled or frozen status rather than within their individual product categories where they can get lost.
Local product sampling now occurs twice a week in-store. Sales tend to rise when sampling campaigns are supported by promotions. A recent ‘3 for £5’ promotion on local ales saw a sales uplift of almost 300%.
The store boasts 28 members of staff including a dedicated energy champion and local produce champion to manage the category, taking some of the pressure off its retail business manager.
A large promotional chilled bay positioned at the entrance to the store, communicates two of the store’s key strengths - ‘fresh and value’ - in one simple move.