Stronger together?

Ropes knotted together

With the cost of doing business rising relentlessly for local retailers and the market far from buoyant, the case for joining a fascia group or franchise has arguably never been stronger, and the choice has never been wider.

For many independent local retailers in Scotland these days, the choice is less whether to join a fascia group or franchise and more about which one to join. Battling it out alone as an unaffiliated independent is unquestionably getting tougher and tougher as every year rolls by – and with the increasing likelihood of the likes of Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s joining the fray in a variety of manners, life only looks set to get even more competitive.

The continually rising minimum wage, huge increases in rates and ballooning compliance costs across the board mean that for many the only option is to gain the support that comes from being part of a buying group of some shape or form.

The stats bear this argument out: according to the 2016 Local Shop Report, the UK’s 15,100 symbol group stores generated £14.2bn in sales in 2016. The 19,100 non-affiliated independent convenience stores managed less than half of this figure, generating £6.3bn in sales over the same period.

Symbol groups have grown their share of the convenience-store market from 22% in 2002 to almost 40% in 2012. According to IGD data, this could rise to 50% by 2020.

Whether you are considering joining one of these groups for the first time, or are considering moving from one to another, this guide will provide you with the key data you need to make a fully-informed decision as to which fascia is right for you.

The great news is that the range of choices available has never been greater. As well as the traditional symbol and fascia groups like Premier, Nisa, Londis, Costcutter and Landmark, there are newer franchise models available from the likes of Subway and The Post Office.

Each has its own particular strengths, but one thing that they all offer is buying power, a household name above the door and a comprehensive support network covering everything a retailer needs to remain competitive in today’s retail environment.

Choosing a symbol group can seem an intimidating task. It is a big commitment, especially if you are already tied into a contract or faced with joining fees – whether this is in the form of an admin charge, buying shares or paying for signage or delivery. But there is no doubt it can pay huge dividends.

Things to consider when choosing a symbol group
  • Are there any initial costs?
  • What ongoing fees are there?
  • Are there delivery charges?
  • Is there a minimum spend?
  • Is there a minimum percentage of buying through them?
  • Is there a minimum length contract?
  • Will I have to purchase any new equipment, such as Epos?
  • Do they allocate stock and are certain lines sent out automatically each month?
  • How frequent are the deliveries?
  • How quick are the lead times for deliveries?
  • What are their wholesale prices like compared to your existing suppliers?
  • How extensive is the product range?
  • Do they provide development support and in what form?
  • Do they provide a chilled & frozen range?
  • Do they offer advertising support – either nationally or locally?
  • What kind of consumer offers do they run?
  • How will they help me to stand out against the competition in the area?
  • Is there an own-label offer?
  • Do they have a loyalty scheme?
  • Will they invest in my store and in what way?

How to decide which symbol group is right for you will ultimately depend on your shoppers and what they want you to offer them. It might come down to the kind of store standards you are prepared to meet and the ways of working. If, for example, you are simply looking for a way of running promotions effectively then you might want to consider joining a cash & carry-based symbol group where you would normally go into depot and pick up the goods yourself.

The pros for retailers considering joining or switching symbol groups are numerous, not least because of the support a fascia can offer in every aspect of running your convenience store, from exclusive discounts and buying power to staff training, running a social media page and availability of new technologies.

Being part of a symbol group gives you the backing and the know-how – from promotions to posters and displays – along with the merchandising system and product knowledge to help make your business a success.

Groups will send several reps and provide supplier contacts. They can offer an in-depth analysis of what you should stock, where you should stock it and how much you should be making.

The support and advice that is given regarding store development should soothe shop owners who are nervous of change, and groups may introduce their own recommended shopfitter to assist with project planning and store layout.

Many also have their own consultants who can do detailed reports on potential or increased turnover.

These can be simple or very detailed, taking into account the demographic area around the shop and local competition. Sometimes there will be a fee, but it may be worth the cost as often it gives additional industry-specific information that will support any finance application. This information, when backed by a symbol brand, can add an influential supporting voice when talking to your bank manager.

Retailers should ask themselves whether remaining unaffiliated is detrimental to their potential as a business. Whatever level you decide to go in at, it is best to do your research before determining which symbol group is right for you.

Top reasons for joining a symbol group
  • Wide range of products
  • Promotional activity
  • Regular communication
  • Marketing in trade press
  • Recognised brand above the door
  • IT and HR support
  • Dedicated trade website
  • Buying power

Why not join the biggest and best in the UK?Premier fascia

Premier is the UK’s number one symbol group with over 3,300 stores nationwide. The group is committed to delivering more profits for retailers and a better shopping experience for consumers. Premier has delivered double digit growth for fourteen consecutive years.

Premier continues to advertise on TV. Premier is advertised every day which will be seen over 100 million times. The TV advert features Premier’s famous Mega Deal promotions along with retailers to emphasise the local aspect of Premier Store. As well as this, retailers also benefit from a full promotional programme covering all categories of fresh, frozen, grocery and impulse to ensure great value for shoppers to drive footfall into stores. This market leading promotional package, along with own-label and price-mark-packs, really drives the value message to help Premier retailers grow their business.

Premier works hard to ensure that retailers have the best choice of products to suit their individual store. This includes both Euro Shopper, Booker’s entry level exclusive own-brand and Happy Shopper, the mid-tier option. This is complimented by working closely with branded suppliers to ensure the best choice of price marked packs so shoppers can clearly see the great value available.

Backed by Booker, the UK’s leading food & drink wholesaler, Premier retailers can take advantage of delivery at cash & carry prices, as well as having the ease and convenience of shopping at any Booker branch. ‘Spend & Save,’ where retailers can save up to 4% on their non-tobacco purchases, is also popular with Premier members as this delivers real savings and adds to their bottom line. Premier does not operate any membership or joining fees and installs the fascia and imagery free of charge. A wide range of additional services such as recycling, energy savings, free Epos and drop shipment are also available that have been specifically created to add value and keep operating costs low for Premier members.

The group continues to go from strength to strength and its relentless focus in increasing choice, lowering prices and improving service has helped Premier members deliver fantastic convenience stores.


Benefits of Nisa membershipNisa store interior

Nisa retailers have the option to operate under one of four symbol fascias: Nisa Local, Nisa Extra, Loco or dual branded, whereby a member can maintain their own local identity whilst also benefiting from the strength of the Nisa brand. Alternatively, a retailer can also choose to retain their own branding and trade under their own independent fascia whilst still receiving the great range of benefits available through Nisa membership.

Nisa recently launched its new Store Evolution format, offering a greater degree of flexibility to retailers and moving towards a more modular development format which accommodates the individual demographic and shopping missions of each store.

Nisa provides a complete retail support package which comprises a strong retail focussed team, an enhanced category management system, a bespoke online staff training facility under the Retail Academy banner, and a comprehensive marketing package incorporating bespoke leaflets, point of sale material and national advertising.

Nisa’s flexible model provides retailers with an unbeatable breadth of range comprising over 13,000 SKUs, to ensure they can provide a single destination shop for all their customers’ needs. This is supported by Nisa’s award winning own label range, Heritage, that provides retailers with over 850 SKUs which offer great quality products at affordable prices. This is all delivered by Nisa’s industry leading supply chain which retailers can trust with an impressive 99.9% of deliveries made on the day and 95% successfully made on time.

The launch of Nisa’s Direct to Store online platform this month will also enable members to order a wide variety of products from local suppliers, from local ales and meats to speciality products, alongside their main order via Nisa’s member order capture system, further reducing administration for the retailer and improving the invoice process.

To allow members to keep up to date with the latest technology, Nisa’s state-of-the-art in-house Epositive Evolution system is continuously updated with new and innovative features that will save retailers time and deliver valuable business insights.

Evolution is a complete business management tool exclusive to Nisa members which can be customised to meet individual retailer’s needs, and the hardware is designed to fit any store environment saving time, delivering insights, driving business and improving store security.

Nisa has its own insight team which allows Nisa retailers to truly understand their customers, enabling them to modify their offer to match the ‘local’ demographic. Retailers can use this insight in conjunction with Nisa’s category management service to create bespoke planograms, layouts and propositions within their individual sites.

Nisa provides retailers with a comprehensive marketing package incorporating social media and PR support, bespoke leaflets, which can be personalised to include local offers, events and community news, as well as a personalised Nisa FM which provides retailers with a strong radio network for their store.

Nisa has a comprehensive field based support team who work closely with retailers to ensure they continue to drive their business forward, comprising retail development managers and regional retail managers, in addition to fresh food development managers, who encourage retailers to make the most of this important category, and store development managers who help Nisa members to further develop their stores and proposition.

Finally, Nisa recognises the importance of community involvement, and as such retailers are able to support good causes in their local area through Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally charity, which in 2016 donated over £1.4 million to charities and good causes throughout the UK.

The process to join the Nisa group is made as stress-free as possible through the enhanced member website and the support that retailers receive from the skilled and trained in-house staff across all areas of the joining process.

Complete the online form to join or contact our friendly recruitment team on 0800 542 7490.


Make More and Save More with LondisLondis store

Londis is part of the Booker Group, the UK’s leading food and drink wholesaler and is one of the UK’s leading symbol convenience store brands with over 1,800 members across the UK. Londis works in partnership with its independent retailers to provide local communities with all they need in convenience shopping, close to their home.

As well as the strength of a nationally recognised brand, Londis supports retailers with better pricing, market leading ranges, strong promotions, store development advice and a leading supply chain service to help them compete and succeed in today’s rapidly expanding convenience market.

Londis is a flexible symbol partner that has a fully delivered service and support package to suit ambitious independent Scottish retailers with stores from 500 sq ft. up to 2000 sq ft. As a new Londis retailer you will benefit from partnering with Booker Group, the UK’s leading food and drink wholesaler.

Londis offers true value with the right range of products at the right prices. We aim to ensure our prices are the most competitive by price checking the Top selling 300 lines on a weekly basis. We provide an industry leading fresh offer with over 1,250 fresh and chilled lines, including fresh food-to-go, fresh produce ranges and meal-for-tonight solutions. Combine this with smart planning, local area knowledge, range optimisation and the symbol group’s expertise in merchandising, so any store can be turned into a highly efficient business that makes more cash profit.

We are committed to helping our retailers Make More and Save More and in 2016 helped our retailers Make and Save an extra £21k. We continue to focus on delivering Better Choice, Price and service for our Independent Retail Partners and supporting them to grow their business locally.


Helping independent retailers to thriveCostcutter store

Our mission is to help independent retailers thrive, giving them the support they need to grow their businesses by meeting the changing needs of their local shoppers.

Following the most in-depth study of shoppers in its 30-year history, Costcutter Supermarkets Group has launched its new Shopper First Programme, a transformation programme bringing together new brand and store design, shopper insights and sales driving range initiatives.

Every retailer has detailed shopper profile information for their store, including details of our five core shopper personas. This enables them to better understand their neighbourhood and use this to develop a truly local offer to bring new shoppers into their store. This approach is supported by our range of over 9,000 lines, 300 direct to store and local specialist suppliers and an award winning Independent own brand. Our new food-to-go offer gives retailers a framework around which they can create a fully tailored offer, both in size and product mix, to meet the needs of their local shoppers and take advantage of this growing opportunity.

Our all-new Costcutter brand and store design has been created to connect with shoppers, stand out of from the crowd and transform the in-store experience. The new Costcutter store design is a step change in convenience retailing with a selection of stunning exterior and interior finishes that appeal to today’s shoppers. The fully flexible modular approach allows retailers to invest at a pace that suits their individual needs and focus on the key shopper missions. This new look Costcutter sits alongside the Mace brand, which will also be updated later in the year, and the awarding winning Simply Fresh brand to allow us to offer retailers the right brand for their store; all underpinned by shopper insights.

With two-thirds of adults in the UK owning a smartphone and 90% of 16-24 year-olds having one a strong social media presence is key to reaching shoppers. We have taken the lead on social media and proximity marketing in the convenience sector and our training courses help our retailers to get online and engage with their customers to drive footfall and sales in their store.

We place technology innovation at our retailers’ fingertips, transforming modern retail with state-of-the-art systems that make life easier. We offer the latest in-store technologies that shoppers demand like easier payments via Apple Pay, Contactless and Self-Service check outs. Our cutting edge Activ Technology systems, including ActivCPoS, ActivOC and retailer portal ActivHUB, have been developed to make the ordering process hassle free and our ActivMOBILE app allows retailers access to all of this information on the go.

By putting the needs of shoppers first, we are providing our retailers with the ability to meet changing shopper expectations and buying habits, delivered through innovative unique brands that engage with shoppers.

To find out how we can help you, call the team on 01904 488663.

Lifestyle Express

Run your business your way backed by the best support in the businessLifestyle Express fascia

Whether you’re competing against other independent retailers, symbol stores, the supermarkets or the discounters, it’s vital that you stand out from the competition. At Lifestyle Express we understand this, and this is why we provide our retailers with the very best support, industry expertise and benefits of a national symbol group, while you maintain your independence and run your business your way.

Lifestyle Express fast facts
  • Average store size: 800 square feet
  • Average store turnover: £12,000 per week
  • Available fascias: Lifestyle Express, Lifestyle Extra, Lifestyle Value
  • Number of UK stores: 1,492, including more than 300 Scottish stores
  • Cost of joining: there is no cost to join or membership fee
  • Minimum store size/turnover: there is no minimum requirement to join Lifestyle Express.

At Lifestyle Express we offer retailers a comprehensive, award-winning retailer package with a proven track record, including bespoke store planning, industry-leading planograms and ongoing advice on range and store merchandising. Our popular, great-value own brand ranges offer excellent margins to retailers as well as offering a strong point of difference. We also offer a range of fantastic money-saving deals on store services, but with no membership fees or hidden costs. And there’s no minimum store size or minimum turnover required, just the potential to grow.

And that’s not all. Lifestyle Express retailers can also benefit from regular Cash Back, as well as being able to buy goods at cash and carry prices. We run regu-lar promotions to help you compete locally and these are proven to build busi-ness and increase your sales and profits.

With Lifestyle Express you can benefit from:
  • 30% growth in sales
    On average, independent retailers achieve a 30% increase in retail sales after joining Lifestyle Express. We’ve carried out extensive research and identified a comprehensive range of bestselling products. By stocking these, and using our industry-leading planograms, you won’t fail to see a surge in sales.
  • Essential ongoing support
    We have a team of Core Range Advisors who work with retailers to identi-fy opportunities to boost your sales and profit. By working with our advi-sors, you’ll know you have a fantastic mix of key products at different price points to suit all your customers’ needs. Retailers also have access to a Retail Development Manager who will provide expert advice on how to successfully grow your business.
  • Earn cash back
    Lifestyle Express is the only symbol group to reward retailing excellence. We run regular incentives for our retailers, all with the opportunity to earn Cash Back, just for stocking the bestselling products, displaying POS and adopting best retail practice. For retailers, it’s a win-win situation.

In 2015 we launched two brand new premium store formats: Lifestyle Extra and Lifestyle Value. These contemporary-style stores provide retailers with the per-fect format to best reflect their trading location. In 2016, we also launched a Premium grey fascia which has been a huge hit with retailers, providing a fresh, modern look with instant kerb appeal.

Offering a nationally recognised fascia and branding, Lifestyle Express helps you to compete within the convenience market where we know first impressions really count.

How to join

To join Lifestyle Express and get your business moving in the right direction, it couldn’t be easier:

  • Either visit your local Landmark Wholesale Member Depot and ask to speak to someone about joining Lifestyle Express and they’ll provide you with all you need to know.
  • Or call John Farrell on 07852 248120 or email
  • Or visit our website at where you’ll find every-thing you need to know. Fill in an enquiry form and someone will be in touch shortly.


Family Shopper

Join the discount revolutionFamily Shopper fascia

Family Shopper is a discount format for independent retailers that brings together the strength of symbol retailing with the great value available in the discount channel. It has been specifically developed to help independent retailers capture the growing sales and profits from the discount sector.

The discount format provides retailers with everything that shoppers would expect from a convenience store including chilled, alcohol, grocery and tobacco along with services such as Lotto and Paypoint. This is then combined with the best of the discounters, covering a wide range of £1 non-food items such as stationery, kitchen utensils, plus a broad seasonal offer. Providing comprehensive disciplines, all Family Shopper stores offer a simplified range that removes duplication. Also merchandising in full trays makes the format easy to operate while minimising back stock and easing cash flow.

Family Shopper is constantly reviewing its range to ensure that retailers have the best choice of products to suit their individual store. This includes the own brands Euro Shopper and Happy Shopper. Selected branded products are also available to ensure shoppers have a ‘best’ choice. As well as four weekly promotions, there is exceptional value in key footfall areas of the store, offering the consumer a true bargain every day.

Backed by Booker Family Shopper retailers can take advantage of delivery at cash & carry prices, as well as having the ease and convenience of shopping and ‘topping-up’ at any Booker branch. A wide range of additional services such as recycling, energy savings, free Epos and drop shipment are also available and specifically created to add value and keep costs low.

The group continues attract interest from independent retailers nationwide. By continuing to focus on choice, price and service, the group remains committed to helping Family Shopper retailers grow their sales and profits.


New career, new you – Discover franchising with the Subway brandSubway fascia

Becoming your own boss is a career ambition held by many, inspired by both the mobility and responsibility it brings, as well as the opportunity to build your own team. However, taking the plunge to start out on your own can be an intimidating prospect, from creating a business plan and recruiting, to making sure all the legal requirements are in place, there are numerous aspects to consider.

Haj Atwal is a Regional Development Agent for the Subway® brand and, with his business partner and brother, Narinder Atwal, he is a franchisee of 32 stores and Development Agent for over 85 stores across East, North and South Scotland.

Having worked for the Subway® brand for more than 15 years, as both a franchisee and Development Agent, Haj is a franchising expert and here shares his top tips for business success:

Is franchising for you?

“The Subway® brand owes much of its success to the strong support systems it has in place for all franchisees. The great thing about a franchised business is that you are operating in a tried and tested system with excellent training and a solid support structure. This support has proved to be very successful and the fact that over 70% of all new Subway® franchises sold worldwide are sold to existing franchisees, speaks volumes.”

Have you got what it takes?

“To run a successful franchise, it’s important you know your business inside out and are prepared to ‘work the line’, which in our business means working as a Sandwich Artist™. Mastering all aspects of your business, from behind the counter serving customers to managing the everyday running of the store, is invaluable. You must be willing to get hands-on with the business – it enables you to empathise with your staff and customers, giving you the overall knowledge to direct the business effectively.”

Do your research

“The first step will always be to research the franchise fully. Most franchises have websites packed full of information for potential franchisees, including online seminars, training guides and background information. Make it a priority to read the franchise trade press and attend any local franchisee exhibitions and seminars in your area – and make sure you go armed with questions. Investing in a franchise can be a life-changing business choice, so it is vital to make an informed decision.”

Motivation matters

“An understanding of the dynamics which motivate individuals is a real bonus in the franchising business. As a quick service restaurant franchise, the Subway® brand is always faced with the ingrained perceptions of working within the ‘food to go’ industry. Attracting reliable, customer-focused staff and retaining them is a key issue within the industry and it is essential that you can offer potential employees real motivating factors to keep them challenged within the organisation.”

Manage your money

“Once your business is up and running and becoming well established in the local area, it may be tempting for franchisees to start to spend their profits. At the Subway® brand we would caution our franchisees to temper this inclination, to look after the money that is coming in and think ahead to any possible drains on these resources. Good business people will be thinking three to six months ahead and have the ability to anticipate the ebbs and flows of cash-flow, putting a strategy in place to address these potential pitfalls. Taking this mind-set will help you build a solid and successful franchise.”

For more information:

Post Office

Popular and convenientPost Office fascia

There are currently over 1400 Post Office branches in Scotland and most are located in shops; 540 are open on Sunday.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ 2017 Community Barometer shows that for the third year running Post Offices and convenience stores are the nation’s favourite – felt to have the most positive impact on an area.

Competitive edge

The Post Office brand gives retailers a competitive edge, bringing new customers through the door for mails, banking, pre-ordered travel money, Local Collect, mobile top-ups and much more. Offering Post Office services will get customers crossing the road to visit your store.

Research shows 78% of people using the Post Office bought something in the shop, and Post Office pays a fee per transaction.

Exciting opportunity

There are currently five exciting opportunities for retailers to take on one of Post Office’s larger branches in Scotland – East Kilbride, Glasgow (Springburn Way), Drumchapel (Hecla Avenue), Edinburgh (Morningside), and Falkirk – as a single franchise or a combination of Main and Local branches, in several retail outlets. Contact

For a Main Post Office retail premises would need to accommodate two or more open plan counters plus a small combi counter alongside the retail till. A Post Office Local is operated from the combi counter during shop opening hours: offering a smaller range of services at the combi means trained staff can serve all customers.  On average, it takes less than 60 seconds to serve a customer.

Vacancies are advertised on the Post Office website; and in places where there is no Post Office nearby, retailers can now apply to add one to their shop, visit:

What Post Office are looking for

  • Entrepreneurs with a vibrant retail business, in a convenient location
  • Space for dedicated Post Office counters and a combi till on the retail counter
  • Disabled access to premises
  • Well-maintained premises that are owned or leasehold

Post Office benefits

  • There is no franchise fee
  • 99% of UK bank customers can access their accounts at the Post Office
  • Post Office is the leading provider of travel money and travel insurance
  • Post Office is the access point for Royal Mail services

What Post Office provides

  • The counter, signage and Post Office EPOS kit with a new dedicated phone line
  • Design and project management of installation
  • Training for retail staff and ongoing support
  • Delivering stock and cash
  • Promoting the new Post Office
  • All the retailer needs to provide is power and a telephone socket for the Paystation, and fit-out time.

Tan Musa, Operations Manager for ZCO, said: “ZCO are currently operating a number of Main Post Office branches, including Cumbernauld, which was formerly a Crown Post Office. Our branches include a range of retail offers depending on location; we are delighted with the way business can grow, with the two offers complementing each other.

“A Post Office means you become a destination of choice, and we are looking to increase our estate when opportunities arise.”