Symbols of change

Best One store

As the cost of doing business seems to relentlessly rise for independent retailers, the case for joining a symbol or fascia group has arguably never been stronger.

Is joining a symbol group going to benefit you? According to the 2016 Local Shop Report, in the UK, the 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. The proof is in the profit.

With a range of pressures from rates rises and increasing minimum wage to decreasing margins and ever more fierce competition, being under the umbrella of a nationally-recognised symbol brand and gaining access to the support infrastructure that symbol groups bring has never been a more attractive package for retailers looking for something to drive their business up a gear or two.

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

There are a number of easily recognisable symbol groups to choose from, including the likes of Premier, Nisa, Londis, Costcutter, Family Shopper and Spar. Each brand comes with its unique offers and benefits. It is a question of choosing one which meets your needs. Recent years have seen the diversification of the sector, with more options for retailers of varied sizes and demographics. Whether you are looking for a more premium offering such as My Costcutter, to Booker’s family Shopper which blurs the lines between c-store, discounter and pound shop, the choice is there.

Top 8 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

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. But there is no doubt it can pay huge dividends.

How to decide which symbol group is right for your business will ultimately depend on your shoppers and what products and deals they want your store 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 a in every aspect of running a 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 knowledge needed to run a successful business, from promotional to posters and displays, along with the merchandising system and product knowledge to help with that make your business flourish.

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 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?

Serviecs offered by groups will involve sending over several reps and provide supplier contacts who are qualified to offer an in-depth analysis of what kinds of products you should be stocking, where in your store you should be stock them and how much profit you could and should stand to be making.

The support and advice that is given regarding store development should go some was to soothe shop owners who are nervous of change. Some groups may introduce their own recommended shopfitter to assist with project planning and store layout to make the process as efficient and as stress free as possible. 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 application. This information, when backed by a symbol brand, can add an influential supporting voice to any finance application.

Ultimately, retailers should ask themselves whether remaining unaffiliated is detrimental to their potential as a business in the long run, in light of increased competiton and pressure from supermarket chains and symbol groups themselves growing exponentially into the local retailing market place. Whatever level you decide to go in at, it is best to do your research before determining which symbol group is right for you and ask all the important questions. This guide should help answer any basic queries and provide a starting block to joining a symbol group.


The biggest and the best!Premier store

Premier is the UK’s number one symbol group with over 3,300 stores nationwide. The group is committed to delivering more profi ts 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 benefi t 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 specifi cally 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.


Nisa: the unique member-owned symbol groupNisa store interior

Nisa Retail is unique in the convenience sector as it is a mutual style company which means it is owned by its independent retail members.

Retailers have the option to operate under four symbol fascias: Nisa Local, Nisa Extra, Loco and dual branded whereby a member can maintain their true local identity whilst also benefiting from the strength of the Nisa brand. Alternatively, a retailer can also choose to trade under their own independent fascia.

Nisa recently launched its new Store of the Future 2 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 the store.

Nisa provides a complete retail support package which comprises a strong retail focussed team, an enhanced category management system, a bespoke 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 its retailers with an unbeatable breadth of range comprising over 13,000 SKUs, with a 98% availability rate, 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, which provides retailers with over 800 SKUs which have been reformulated and repackaged to ensure they offer great quality products at affordable prices. This commitment to value and quality saw Nisa secure the accolade of Symbol Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year in 2016, affirming Nisa as the symbol group of choice for fresh produce. 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.

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

Through Nisa membership retailers can take advantage of the Retail Academy which provides a complete training solution to develop their staff, to ensure their morale remains high and to help provide the best possible customer service.

Nisa provides retailers with a comprehensive marketing package incorporating bespoke leaflets, allowing members to personalise the leaflets to include local offers, local events and community news, as well as a personalised Nisa FM which provides retailers with a strong radio network for their store.

In order to drive improved service, delivery and engagement for and with its members, Nisa recently restructured its support functions to further strengthen its operational focus and effectiveness. Nisa provides a comprehensive support structure which retailers are encouraged to utilise to ensure they continue to drive their business forward. Support comprises a strong field team covering 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 knows that community involvement is key, and as such its 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 form on to join or contact our friendly development department 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.

The benefits of the Londis offer include:

  • Free Membership
  • Competitive cost of goods.
  • Loyalty discounts of up to 4% on all purchases (Excludes Tobacco)
  • Award winning Fresh range with over 1,250 lines.
  • Award winning own brand ranges Euro Shopper, Happy Shopper and Farm Fresh.
  • A best in class online web ordering system (Londis Webshop).
  • Market leading promotions every 4 weeks
  • Free Promotion Leaflets and FREE store point of sale support.
  • Support from our dedicated Store Development and Retail Development teams.
  • Tri Temperature fleet delivering all your ambient, fresh and frozen needs on one delivery.
  • A best in class forecourt package with a dedicated forecourt team.
  • Free Membership of the ACS.

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 Saver 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 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.

In 2016 Costcutter Supermarkets Group undertook the most in-depth study of shoppers in its 30-year history and launched the new Shopper First Programme, a transformation programme bringing together new brand and store design, shopper insights and sales driving range initiatives.

Following this work, all of our retailers have 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.

In January 2017 we launched our first all-new Costcutter brand and store design which 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.

Family Shopper

Delivering value every dayFamily Shopper store

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.


Be part of the winning teamSpar store interior

SPAR has experienced consecutive years of growth by continuing to improve its offer, drive basket spend and footfall, improve its promotional programmes, reduce costs and develop industry leading store formats. It continues to forge ahead in the convenience sector by offering retailers profitable store formats, the biggest own label range, innovative selling plan and a strong buying strategy.

SPAR firmly believes it offers the best route to market from its supply base to its vision for what SPAR will look like in the future. Ultimately its strategy is to help all its retailers run successful and more profitable businesses.

Helping move your business forward in 2017, it is imperative that SPAR continues to adapt to the ever-changing market and, in particular, to the changing needs of its customers and their different methods of shopping. The convenience market is currently changing more rapidly than it has ever done and SPAR recognises that we must work smarter and move even more quickly to continue to be a leader within the symbol sector.

SPAR will do this through using innovative ideas that make customers experience in store more enjoyable. Innovation is at the heart of the convenience sector and retailers must always be looking at new ways to bring a better shopping experience to our stores. Shoppers want to see improvements in technology, foodservice, convenience and healthier options in store, which is why SPAR has endorsed SUBWAY, Greggs, Costa Express and now has its own exclusive food to go brand “Daily Deli”. This allows it to offer retailers numerous ways to get into the profitable food to go business at various levels of investment. Some stores now offer seating areas instore, in a modern world where social media and mobile phones dominate. It’s important to think of ideas to appeal to customers such as charging points and free Wi-Fi.

These are just some of the innovations and the types of offerings that will drive footfall and build loyalty to a store. Convenience stores must continue to innovate and invest and be first to market to continue to attract the more discerning shopper through the door.

SPAR is committed to a ‘More Together’ strategy that ultimately aims to help its retailers develop more profitable businesses in a more modern environment, continually improving the shopping experience.

All being delivered by the largest and most committed sales team in Scotland.


It’s time you were with the Best-One!Best One store

With the latest research indicating that symbols and independents are outperforming the multiples in terms of shopper spending, convenience retailing is the place to be. And with growth of 8.2%* versus a sector growth of 4.8%**, Best-one continues to lead the way in symbol retailing and particularly in Scotland where Best-one’s sales are up an impressive 9.6%*. A major part of this success is the support the group offers members in terms of promotions, flexibility, field support and store development


Members receive five unbeatable WOW Deals and 15 Must Feature promotions every month with case allocations to ensure members have availability throughout the promotional period. Shoppers now expect to see promotions that match the multiple retailers and Best-one delivers on this. In addition with the move into larger pack formats of tobacco – the largest category footfall driver in to store – these deals will drive frequency of store visits, basket spend and customer loyalty


Best-one members can buy online, in-depot or via the Bestway Wholesale mobile app and can pay by cash, direct debit or credit with up to three deliveries per week. All retailer purchases contribute to the My Rewards rebate scheme which offers up to 5% cashback on purchases with the annual rebate to participating members in excess of £7,000 per year. Local sourcing also plays a major part for the group and members are free to engage with local suppliers in addition to over 300 drop shipment suppliers.

Field support

Best-one prides itself on its continued support it delivers to members. Over the past year over £2m has been invested in sales and business development personnel to ensure members receive two store visits per month to help retailers stock the right categories, optimum ranges and store development. A focus on hero categories such as BWS, food-to-go, bakery and chilled and fresh has seen members increase sales throughout their businesses. Each member also works with their dedicated BDE to work up a Joint Business Plan based on actual sales data and benchmarked against the store’s potential as defined by its shopper demographic.

Store Development

With a variety of formats available based on shopper profiles and their missions, Best-one works with members to deliver the best possible solution for their communities. From simple food to go solutions to full serve-over meal counters and premium coffee stations, Best-one can help remodel, refi t and revitalise your store. Many members have used future earnings from the My Rewards rebate scheme to fund refits or new refrigeration rather than tying up capital and the recently introduced Central Pick operation gives retailers longer shelf life on over 1,500 chilled and fresh products with up to three deliveries per week.

James Hall Symbol Development Director says “Best-one is performing incredibly well and especially in Scotland where it is growing at twice the rate of the overall UK independent and symbol sector. The Best-one brand also resonates greatly with shoppers as the recent Which? Survey showed – ranking Best- one as the UK’s top symbol group and third in overall convenience after M&S Simply Food and Little Waitrose. I believe Best-one is the best alternative for retailers wanting to make a step change in their businesses or for other fascia customers wanting to make the switch to a progressive and profitable symbol partner.”