First major refit gets underway

Woodlands local convenience store

After more than six months of false starts, delays and assorted problems, the work to begin the refit of the food to go section and the counter area of the till is finally underway with the units now on order and installation work expected in the next few weeks.

by Antony Begley

It seems almost ridiculous to report, but after more than six months of trying, we have finally succeeded in getting a refit of two key sections of the store underway.

Towards the end of last year we agreed with Cuisine de France that we would undertake a full refit of the food to go section of Woodlands Local to allow us to introduce a far wider and more esoteric range of savoury and sweet baked items to attempt to bring more food-to-go shoppers to the store, and to encourage them to spend more when they do come.

Our current range is very limited and traditional and it also offers very little in terms of cakes, doughnuts, pastries and so on. We have also decided to refit the counter area which sits right next to the hot food section, which will mean that the entire right hand wall of the store will be fully refitted – a major step forward in creating a good first impression for all customers that visit the store.

Little did we know when we made that decision however that it would take months upon months of increasingly short-tempered effort to actually engage a shopfitter.

As with everything we do at the store, we started locally. It’s always our preference to use local suppliers where possible. Long story short, we found ourselves four months later still waiting on proper quotes, still waiting on site visits and still waiting anything even beginning to approach a half decent service.

With Cuisine de France understandably wondering what the delay was, we eventually decided to change our plans and approach renowned shopfitters Vertex.

Top dog Alex Dalglish was quickly in contact and even made a store visit within a few days. We have been familiar with Vertex’s work for many years so we had no concerns about quality – and even from the initial visit it was clear that Alex understood the challenges we were facing and how to go about resolving them.

Drawing ahead

After an initial set of drawings were produced, a further couple of site visits were required by Vertex’s Neil Mackay before a final set of plans were drawn up.

Shop interior plans
The units have now been ordered and will be manufactured to specification, prior to finishing and installation in the store. Alex reckons it’ll take around about a couple of weeks before the manufacturing is done then a couple of night shifts should get the installation done and dusted.

It has been a long time coming but if the results are anything like what we hope for then we’ll be very happy campers indeed.

What we’re hoping the refit will achieve

The refit of the food to go and counter areas will be the first sections to be completed in the store to the design standard and ‘look’ that will ultimately be rolled out throughout the store, so it’s vital we get these first stages right. We also have some very specific reasons for tackling these two areas first:

  1. These two areas are the first sections of the store that shoppers see when they enter – first impressions are important!
  2. Food to go is a massively important driver in the store in terms of footfall, revenue and profit – so it makes sense to focus on an area of the store that is already performing well.
  3. As part of our drive to make the store more attractive to a wider audience, we will introduce a massively enlarged range of hot foods including a host of pies, pasties, soups, cakes, croissants, doughnuts, slices and more. We will also bake bread fresh every day.
  4. With a hospital right across the road from the store, we intend to start offering a hot and cold food delivery service for both the staff and patients, as well as offering to deliver boxes of chocolates, fruit, newspapers and more.
  5. The counter area is currently messy, overcrowded and ugly – the new counter will be much cleaner and simpler as well as giving us far more impulse sales space.