Extra Flamin Hot_Londis Solo Convenience_Natalie Lightfoot

Humongous POS arches have been springing up across the country in recent weeks as independent retailers collaborate with PepsiCo and Cirkle to execute a sizzling snack launch. 

After the widespread success of Mexican tortilla chips Takis, which have gone viral on TikTok and seen strong demand in c-stores that stocked them, PepsiCo knew there was demand for super spicy snacks. So the food giant worked closely with a select group of convenience retailers to ensure the launch of Extra Flamin’ Hot Doritos, Walkers Max and Wotsits Crunchy was on fire.

Sales were smokin’ - quite literally - at One Stop Carlton Convenience in Salford, Greater Manchester  where owner Priyesh Vekaria set up his arch at the entrance of the store, alongside a smoke machine. 



Priyesh started working with PepsiCo last year as part of PR agency Cirkle’s ’Retailer Inner Cirkle’ to help plan the in-store activation and develop POS specifically for independents. He says that large scale POS seen in cash & carries can have a major influence on retailers’ purchasing decisions and the idea was to replicate that type of impact in store. “When you as a retailer walk into a wholesaler and see massive POS, it looks fantastic,” he tells Convenience Store. “It encourages us to buy the product, but ultimately that’s only us buying large volumes … it doesn’t translate to consumer sales. 

“Consumer sales will only happen if the POS is in independent retailer stores and we’re driving that with whatever theatre, excitement and drama we can create in store.”

The Extra Flamin’ Hot POS, which includes 3D fire extinguishers - an idea Priyesh suggested - arrived flat packed in mid-March and Priyesh then got to work constructing the giant arch. “It was a bit of an Ikea job,” he grins. “It was fun to build.”

Extra Flamin Hot_Priyesh, Atul, Kaye, Harj

Fellow retailers Atul Sodha, Kay Patel and Harj Dhasee paid Priyesh a visit and checked out his in-store theatre

And did it have the desired effect? “It was fantastic,” he says. “I think PepsiCo have been somewhat overwhelmed by how much of a big bang we made.”

He has sold 25 cases of each variant so far and although he concedes that some of those purchases will have cannibalised other snack sales, he claims that the launch has also attracted new customers. “There is a sacrifice in the sales. However, it’s not something that we should be focused on and cynical about, because new flavours mean new audiences and hopefully they’ll keep coming back - not just for that flavour, but for other things too.”

He claims that having the opportunity to stock new products at launch helps make the store a destination. “It means that we get a first dibs on the product, which from a consumers’ perspective means we’re a destination store for only a short lived period of time.

“But that means that they then always come back to us, thinking, ‘what does the store have new for us today?’”

He put his own slant on the promotion by introducing a smoke machine, which cost £25 on Amazon. He is confident that it will get plenty of use out of the machine at different events and claims it was worth it to help create a buzz for shoppers. “They said it was like walking into a nightclub!” he laughs. “Kids loved it the most.” He claims that it attracted plenty of attention from local school kids who would drop in on their way to class. “We found we had a lot more football during the time that was there with the smoke machine because people just wanted to walk through the area,” he says.

Extra Flamin Hot_Triple A Foodhall store front

Convenience Retailer of the Year Triple ‘a’ Foodhall in Nuneaton also went large on the launch. An Extra Flamin’ Hot branded fire engine pulled up outside the store, while the store front itself was wrapped in the snack branding. Products were sampled on a stand outside the front of the shop, while the event was livestreamed on the store’s Facebook page.



Atul Sodha of Londis Harefield in Middlesex, who has played a central role in building the retailer group with Cirkle, alongside One Stop Mount Nod’s Aman Uppal and BB Nevison Superstore’s Bobby Singh, says: “We can overthink a lot of this stuff, but actually it’s [about] doing the simple things correctly and then everyone playing their part - the brand doing everything they can and sharing their insights, as well as giving us knowledge of NPD and what they’re able to do to support it.

“This is a transition of making it bigger, bolder and better for the retailer.”

He claims that the snacks flew off shelves: “We sold out of our initial allocation, which was something like 16 cases, in about a week and a half.”

Extra Flamin Hot_Atul Sodha with fire engine

He notes that in his store the launch has been beneficial for the category as a whole. “We haven’t just sold more Walkers, we’ve sold more crisps altogether,” he says. “I’ve got an affiliation with KP partners, but their ethos has always been that we grow the category together. 

“We’ve been part of so many different forums and so many different brands and doing activations, I just feel grateful that they see the benefit in working with independents.”

Due to the constraints of his store, Atul opted to go for a smaller version of the POS, however he has been inspired by his peers’ executions and admits he wishes he’d gone bigger. “I’ve had FOMO [fear of missing out] since seeing the activations that all the other retailers have done - Natalie up in Scotland has got the same size store as me, but she did the whole lot.”

Extra Flamin Hot_Londis Solo Convenience

Indeed, although it barely measures 500sq ft, Londis Solo Convenience in Glasgow opted for the giant POS, with owners Natalie and Martin deciding to display it outside the store. “We put up the big POS for the launch day and offered tasters of the crisps,” says Martin. “We sold a few drinks as well because they were so hot that people had to come in and buy something to calm their mouths down!

“The POS gave us a point of difference really, even more so in a small store because it’s more impactful as it takes up so much space, it was something to draw people in.”

The arch was collected by their Walkers rep afterwards, but the shop still has a smaller stand at the till point and sales are going strong. “They’ve done well, we’ve sold 120 bags of the Dorito ones, which have been the most popular,” says Martin.

He is also maximising the opportunity by featuring it on the store’s online ordering platform. “We do quite a lot of deliveries so we’ve got it on our Snappy Shopper app, it’s got it’s own banner and category so you see it as soon as you click into the app,” he says.

Extra Flamin Hot_Neil's Premier

Neil Godhania of Neil’s Premier in Peterborough describes the activation as “amazing!”

“We gave some feedback back about how they [PepsiCo] could bring it to life and add theatre in store and when they produced this FSDU I was gobsmacked,” he says. “I had to chop a little bit of it off just to get it to fit into the store! But the interaction has been brilliant, the customers love it. They walked in and they’re like ‘wow!’ I had people taking photos and putting it on their socials and onto Snapchat. It’s been really, really good, it’s definitely helped sales. 

“We sold out [of our initial allocation] in a couple of days and then luckily our local Bestway and Booker had it in stock so we were able to replenish stock.”

He is eager for more brands to collaborate with the convenience channel. “I think there’s a lot of brands that can learn from this and think, ‘let’s start interacting with our local stores’.

“It’s the first time in so long where we’re not at the bottom of the food chain. It’s been brilliant. If we could do more things like this with more brands, then why not.”