Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski on the exciting evolution independent retailers are undergoing.
Will you be one of the many lovebirds eating out this Valentine’s Day, looking across the restaurant and wondering, “Am I in the right relationship?”
I only ask because there is a lot of this going on in the retail market at the moment.
Rising costs, additional legislation and margins on traditional convenience categories that have slimmed at a rate that would make any January dieter envious mean retailers’ eyes have been straying away from the once almighty depot.
For more details, sign up to Better Wholesaling’s partner site betterretailing.com, but here is a brief rundown of some of the exciting innovations in independent retail in 2017:
Cornwall retailer Dan Cock brought a pub, café and restaurant offer to his customers after rebuilding his store around their needs; fellow retailer David Robertson brought to the community of Buckie in northern Scotland a range of coffees and on-trend cakes that would impress any London hipster.
Linda and Dennis Williams, of Premier Broadway in the rundown estate of Oxgangs in Edinburgh, now serve baguettes and £1 flat whites to their price-conscious customers.
Recently, I spoke to Roli Ranger, an award-winning convenience store owner with three Londis stores in Berkshire. His plan for 2018 speaks volumes.
“Retailers are looking around for other opportunities, such as foodservice, where you can access high margins,” he says.
“For us that might mean introducing a street-food offer or gourmet burgers. It works in London and we want to make it work in a neighbourhood format.”
Where, exactly, is the place for the depot and traditional wholesale in all of this? The answer comes from the sharing of knowledge, strength in numbers and guidance that only a wholesaler can provide a retailer.
Do you have a foodservice division retailers can easily tap into? Do you have enough promotions that can help retailers beat Lidl, Tesco or Asda? Are you investing in a supply chain for chilled or local products?
In short: how are you ensuring that you are keeping your retail customers engaged and not looking elsewhere?
There are more positive examples. Last month, I spoke to a retailer who had left his symbol group three years ago after feeling that its promotional cycle was entirely irrelevant to his store. He could not “see the point” in the group any more.
However, he has now rejoined the group, as it offers him deals that compete with Lidl and Morrisons. It has also helped him build a café and plan for the future.
“My customers tell me they do not have to go anywhere else,” he now proudly declares.
With your retail customers more demanding than ever, how do you shape up?