How convenience stores must improve on fresh food


I’m standing in my local independent store. It’s profoundly depressing and frankly I’d rather not be here. The lighting is appalling, soft drinks coolers are being used for the sale of dairy and chilled foods and worst of all the shop is visibly dirty.

I’m on a “shopper mission”. Fresh Italian style meatballs with salad and accompaniments. Simple fare but nutritious and gratifying. There are sixteen items on my list – ten are fresh. Nothing too demanding. Everyone knows that convenience stores have to be serious about fresh foods – right? So this should be a doddle. I’m lucky. I have a whole range of convenience stores close by. From small independents, through symbols and on to multiple owned.

I’ve already decided to walk away from this one but for the record I can only buy two out the ten fresh products. I ask for the lines I need but I’ve hit a wall of indifference from the guy behind the till. They can’t all be like this. I try another independent. Windows plastered with mobile phone ads & tariffs and dull lighting. Is this shop actually open? Another desperately disappointing fresh offering with terrible refrigeration and poor housekeeping standards. Two further visits to independents confirms my view that fresh food is not high on their agenda….

There are too many small stores disregarding the three founding principles of building & sustaining sales of fresh foods:

  • Correct bright lighting
  • Great hygiene
  • Effective refrigeration with the appropriate temperature regimes.
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David Gilroy is the founder and managing director of Store Excel. He was previously the convenience retail lead at W2 Commercial and held operations director roles at Bestway Wholesale and Nurdin & Peacock.


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