Making moves

With retailers moving from one symbol group to another becoming more noticeable over the last couple of years, SLR visited Farah Ahmed in Cardenden, Fife who has recently moved from Nisa to Londis to discover what motivated the move.

by Kevin Scott


Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a more aggressive policy adopted by symbol groups as they attempt to boost numbers. This has seen acquisitions, new store openings, better deals for retailers and more movement from one group to another. With each symbol group able to offer bespoke packages to retailers the offers that can be put on the table can be tempting, and one retailer who has moved groups this year is Farah Ahmed who runs a 1,500 sq ft stop in the Fife town of Cardenden.
Farah has an award-winning past, having picked up industry awards in the past, however she moved from the central belt to Fife and having been at the store for eight years she moved earlier this year from Nisa to Londis – in what was something of a coup for Londis.
“It came down to money in the end,” says Farah. “With a store this size the minimum case drops just weren’t financially viable. The way the deliveries worked, one wasn’t enough and I was beginning to have availability issues by the weekend, but two was too much based on the minimum case drop.” And there were others aspects to the pricing structure of Nisa membership that Farah just wasn’t happy with, which led her to look beyond the comfort of the group she was familiar with.
“There’s no getting away from the fact we’re in a recession and every penny counts. That forced me to look at what else was out there,” says Farah.
She’s not alone in going over the books and deciding that things could be better so she decided to open talks with other symbol groups to see what they could offer her.
In the end it was Londis that was able to offer Farah exactly what she was looking for. “With Londis my minimum drop is 150 cases, so with two deliveries a week I can get 300 cases, which is perfect.”
And sales have gone up as a result – something that Farah puts down to the improvements in availability resulting from the new delivery schedule. “It’s ideal now, and I don’t have to finish my day’s work and run to the cash and carry. I was running around in circles before.”
That’s not the only difference though – there’s the rather obvious one of having new signage outside the shop and throughout the interior.
The shop is set up in a traditional horizontal aisle fashion, with newstrade at the front door and the till point on the right. Chillers line the left and back walls. With a new fascia group coming on board Farah sat down with Londis to examine where changes could be made to the inside of the shop. For the most part it was left as it was, however some key changes such as moving the soft drinks chillers from the left hand wall to the right hand wall before customers reach the till was one such change that has proved successful.
“The merchandising team were great. I was apprehensive but the changes they made have worked,” confirms Farah. “Londis has productively helped me grow my sales. The shop looks better and is making more money.”
Farah’s story illustrates that the offer that is perfect for one retailer might not work for another. And that’s one of the reasons the symbol groups are so competitive across Scotland these days. Finding the right offer for store size and turnover is crucial for any retailer to succeed and Farah thinks Londis could be doing more in terms of marketing what it can offer.
“I think a lot of retailers have underestimated Londis. The company needs to get its message out there. They might not be as big as Spar for example but they’ve got a lot to offer retailers of my size.”

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