We can hardly contain our excitement as we complete the final refit of Woodlands Local with a new floor and all-new shelving, giving our customers a massively improved shopping environment.
It has been a long time coming, but this month has marked a very significant development of our proposition in Falkirk. As SLR went to press we were in the final stages of completing Phase II of our refit of Woodlands Local, involving the laying of a new floor and the installation of all-new shelving, as well as finishing off a few small cosmetic issues around the store.
It’s a hugely important development for us because, for the very first time since we took over three years ago, the store now looks like a truly modern, bright, clean convenience store. Coming after the refit of the till, counter and hot food area in Phase I, the latest refit means we now have a real platform upon which to build an efficient and professional store that will deliver for us and for our customers.
The refit was carried out by an experienced and, we would have to say, an extremely enthusiastic, friendly and effective team from Direct Shelving Service. Graham Mason’s staff were hugely accommodating and interacted exceptionally with both our own store staff and our customers.
Much of the store was kept open during the refit, which was both a surprise and a relief. We had fully expected to have to close the store completely for at least two days – but the reality is that, compare to the previous week, sales were only down by between £100 and £150 per day during the refit, which was fantastic news.
While the physical refit is important, it is actually only the start of a process of refocusing the entire store, applying all the lessons we’ve learned over the last three years to reshape the store to better suit the shopping habits and needs of our customers.
The entire store is being re-laid with a ‘mission shopping’ ethos with distinct areas of the store dedicated to breakfast, lunch, meal for tonight, big night in and so on. This involves, for example, siting raw chicken and mince, for example, directly next to and adjacent from pasta, pasta sauces, rice, fresh veg and so on, to ensure that customers looking for a meal for tonight can find everything they need for the most popular recipes within arm’s reach. It’s all about making it easy for customers.
The biggest difference of all will be when we swap the alcohol section at the front of the store with the fresh and chilled section at the back. It is our hope that bringing chilled foods, fruit, veg, milk and dairy to the front of the store will grow sales in these high margin, high volume categories. We anticipate that the impact on alcohol sales will be minimal, or may even be positive.
The area dedicated to alcohol will actually fall but the amount of chilled space will increase which will allow us to add a broader range of chilled white and rose wines, a bigger range of larger pack beers and ciders (8 packs and bigger) and it will allow us to increase the facings of our most popular 4-pack beers and ciders. This should help drive sales and minimise re-stocking and availability issues.
Own label range
Another key development in the refit will be the introduction of a large selection of products from Cosctcutter’s own label ‘Independent’ range. This will be the first time we have stocked an own label range in the store and the general merchandising principle throughout the store will be to offer one premium option (Heinz Salad Cream, for instance) and one own label option (Independent Salad Cream). This should help de-clutter the store by removing lots of unnecessary range proliferation. We anticipate that this process alone will remove over 200 lines from the store.
These de-listed lines will then be ‘re-purposed’ and sold through as promotions. As we create our own dedicated POS and customer leaflets, we can sell these delisted products through as part of our standard three-weekly promotional programme.
The refit also introduces two new dedicated promotional bays and a one metre £1 bay for the first time. One promo gondola end sits right at the front door – the first thing a customer sees – while the other sits near the hot food counter, visible from anywhere at the front of the store.