Woodlands Local at last received approval for its amended licence application just as SLR was going to press, allowing us to finally complete the refit of the store. Let the new era begin!
by Antony Begley
It’s been a long, long time coming but just as SLR was going to press this month we received formal notification from our licensing lawyers TLT that our application for a minor amendment to our licence had finally been granted. Despite the fact that we were actually making the licensed section a little smaller and we were moving it to the back of the store, the ‘formality’ that was supposed to take just a week or so actually ended up taking over a month.
We had been informed by fellow retailers that it is possible to actually make the in-store changes as soon as the application is lodged because, technically, the local licensing board cannot refuse a properly submitted minor application, but TLT advised us to stay squeaky clean by waiting until the approval was granted before we began the in-store work.
With Falkirk Licensing Board a notoriously prickly bunch, we even had a visit from our LSO to get his tape measure out and go through our application with a fine tooth comb before approval was granted, but the main thing is that it was indeed granted and we are now good to go.
Unfortunately, due to the timing of the approval, we only had a few hours in the store before this article had to be submitted for the magazine as it was press day, so all we are able to bring you this month is a lovely picture of our new freezer cabinet stranded in the middle of the shop floor.
It’s been a frustrating month because we carried out the bulk of the work rearranging the store around a month ago, expecting the licence to be granted within a week or so. What that meant is that our mission-shopping based approach to store layout created little more than a lot of confusion for our customers.
Our dedicated ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’ and ‘meal for tonight’ zones made no sense to our customers for the last month because, for instance, the pastas and sauces and rice and accompaniments that were meant to sit across from the fresh meat and vegetables were actually facing the beer and cider fixture for a month! Similarly, the ‘big night in’ zone with 2l bottles of soft drinks and sharing packs of confectionery and crisps & snacks sat facing the dairy cabinet for a month, instead of facing the multipack beers and the wines and ciders.
But with the store now on the way to being laid out the way we want it to be, shopping should start making more sense to customers. We will also introduce new mission shopping zone signage which should also help make it nice and easy for our customers to navigate their way around the store.
Chill and freeze
More good news came in the form of the arrival of our second freezer from Capital Cooling. This single door unit will house the ice creams and frozen desserts and will sit alongside the double door unit that will now hold all of our savoury lines. The extra frozen space lets us add a bigger range of staples like burgers, chips and frozen veg and pizzas and so on, while the new freezer lets us stock a full range of ice creams and desserts for the first time.
The main point of reworking the macro space layout, of course, was to bring our fresh and chilled section to the front of the store. We’ve seen growth of over 14% in sales from this category in the last year, despite the fact it was at the back of the store and didn’t benefit from very high traffic so we’re hopeful that putting it right at the front will drive up sales of chilled and dairy lines as well as fresh fruit and veg. The milk section has also been moved forward to sit next to it and this is guaranteed to bring lots of customers to that part of the store.
While we’ve moved the alcohol to the back of the store and made the area very slightly smaller, we will benefit from the fact that we can now chill all of our white wines, rose wines, beers, ciders and RTDs.
We also have enough space to grow our range of larger format packs and will be stocking an extended range of 10, 12 and 15 pack beers and ciders.
With a dedicated ambient red wine bay for the first time we are also planning to introduce a bigger range of reds, ranging from top shelf treats at £10 and above, down to mid-range popular wines at eye level and a range of value and promoted wines nearer the bottom of the fixture.
Bread and bakery
Another consequence of the moves is a bigger space for our bread and bakery section and, for the first time, all of our lines will be on the same fixture. We sell a huge amount of morning rolls in the shop and having these on the same fixture as the bread and cakes will hopefully drive traffic and sales.
As part of this move, we’ve added an extensive range of big brand packaged ambient cakes onto that fixture and many of the new lines are already selling well.
Woodlands has been a work in progress lately, but we’re seeing a real difference now. The fruits of all that labour, and the patience during the relicensing process, are set to pay off in the coming months.