The story of newly-crowned Convenience Retailer of The Year 2014 David Charman is one of a huge risk paying off and of a vision of a great store fully realised. Early last year David (pictured) took the decision to expand his forecourt store, which has been trading from the same site in West Malling, Kent, since the 1950s, into a destination food shop for the area. This involved excavating an entire rock face, borrowing heavily, buying out other members of his family and selling their other fuel site. But it was all worth it for a high-quality fresh-based c-store that the locals love
Quality shines out
Pride of place in the store goes to the impressive butchery counter, staffed by two full-time specialist butchers. Cuts of meat can be prepared to order, including some with specially-prepared marinades, and also sold pre-packed under the Parkfoot label from the chiller.
Artisan French bread is imported directly from the Continent and displayed in baskets on this attractive wagon. Retail prices can reach £2.69 per loaf.
The impressive chilled offer is all kept behind smart chiller doors, with a strong core range plus extensive ready meals and meal solutions, plus a selection of rare cheeses. However, doors on chillers are not an obstacle to sales, says David. In fact, he calls the act of opening the door “a commitment to purchase”.
The full selection
The commitment to quality extends to all categories in the store, including an impressive off-licence section. Permanent ‘3 for £6’ deals run on bottled ales, while wines on special offer have their own dedicated shelf, and local and small suppliers are promoted on the fixture as well as major brands.
The store also racks up significant sales of Cook premium ready meals, with price points up to £19.99 for the four-person entrees.
Fresh and local
Premium and local producers are visible in every category, like these local honeys and preserves.
There is a big focus on fresh produce, with about 50% of it sourced locally, and the remainder coming via Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore. More than 60 small and specialist suppliers service the store, including the same strawberry grower who supplies the Wimbledon tennis championships.