In terms of the targets for our relaunched and enlarged store, there is real light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve achieved a 16% growth in year-on-year turnover and our budget is for 20% eventually, so we’re not far off. Customer count is up 800 and basket spend is growing, too, having increased about 60-70p since we reopened and up to £5.50 per visit now. Give it one more month and we will get to the point that we budgeted for.

Every category has lifted apart from tobacco, although off licence has only seen a marginal increase, meaning it is taking a lower proportion of customer spending than it used to. That was before the World Cup started, though, so we’re hopeful we’ll see it increase this month.

What it does show is that those 800 extra customers are new customers, looking for different things from the store. Putting the post office in has been a magnet for customers, and when they visit to use the PO they realise that it is a good environment to do some of their other shopping, too, so we are building customer count and basket spend that way.

I need the post office counter to be a profit-earner in its own right: we’re on a new PO contract which is commission-only, so we need to be sharp and stay on top of it. But we are open longer hours than the old post office in the town used to so are hopeful we can see an increase.

The three most labour-intensive areas of the store, which are the post office, fresh & chilled and the bake-off/food to go, have all been set up as separate business units and each one will have their sales, costs and profits closely monitored.

Fresh & chilled will be key for us this summer, and I’m pleased to say that strawberries and fresh salad are flying out. Fresh & chilled is up 80%, but sales across the whole shop are up; snacks and soft drinks are doing well and we have more space to make displays now. A bit of good weather does wonders and hopefully we’ll get some sustained sunshine to help sales of beer and barbecue items.
We’re also doing quite well with food to go, and the Tchibo coffee machine is acting as a good opportunity for offers. But the focus is on the whole shop, and we’re looking for a steady build of sales across every category.