Nisa on board as we rework the entire store

Woodlands local convenience store

We will now be sourcing our fresh, chilled and frozen from Nisa and will be re-working the entire store as we increase our focus on food to go at Woodlands, with a fully restructured team into the bargain!

by Antony Begley


The tough decisions have been made and we’ve laid out the latest road map for the future of Woodlands Local that we’re confident will see us emerge from a recent period of upheaval in better shape than ever.

As outlined in the last issue of SLR, we have now formally committed to using Nisa as our supplier for fresh, chilled and frozen and will be accessing their range via Filshill. Nisa visited us last month to talk through the procedures for ordering, while also offering some help on planograms and choosing the right range for our store. They also gave us some merchandising ideas to help make sure the refreshed categories get off to the best possible start.

We will have a 12-week grace period where we will not be subject to the usual 100-case minimum quantity weekly order fines. This gives us ample time to satisfy ourselves that the solution will work for us in-store.

With three orders a week and a minimum single order size of 30 cases it will be a significant commitment for us. However, with bread and milk included, we reckon we should be able to get over the line each week.

Building the first order has been a real challenge in terms of both choosing the right products that will work in the store and in terms of working out exactly how many lines we can fit into the chillers available.

To help get more stock out, we’ve added a few new shelves to the chillers. We now have approximately four metres of chilled space (six or seven shelves), as well as three metres of frozen space, plus another metre for ambient fruit and veg. It’s not a huge amount of space but it’s not a huge store, so we’ve had to maximise what we get into the chillers by bringing the shelves closer together.

This was something we learned during a site visit to Wilson Rea’s KeyStore More in Lanark. Wilson’s pet hate is chilled space that goes unused, so he packs the shelves tightly and crams as much as he can into the chillers. He offered some very helpful advice when we visited, including the key lines to focus on, some nice merchandising ideas and some useful hints on getting creative with Nisa’s ordering policy – some single cakes count as chilled and as full cases. Go figure.

Anyway, we’re just about there on pushing the button and should be ready to report back in the next issue.

Ready for the summer!Woodlands BBQ range

As part of our summer preparations we have added a small BBQ fixture at Woodlands to help us hopefully cash in on a bit of barbie and alfresco dining action.

With a new range of fresh and frozen coming from Nisa and a lot of local butcher meats, as well as the standard range of impulse lines, we’re hoping to drive up basket spends when the sun comes out.

Value vaping

With stodgy sales of e-liquids in Woodlands we have tried various things over the last 12 months. We introduced a range of Edge liquids from Booker which, at £2.50 a pop, did reasonably well but we’re now going to add a new range of 88 Vape liquids that we’re getting through Filshill. They come in a variety of weird and wonderful flavours but retail at just £1.

We reckon they’re worth a go and while they’re not going to generate ridiculous cash profits, at over 40% POR there’s still a decent margin to be had. Watch this space.

Re-lay update

We have also completed our plans for a full re-lay of the shop floor with major changes set to happen.

The drawings for the new floorplan are complete with several fixtures being moved and swapped to create better adjacencies. This will create new opportunities and some space for entirely new categories.

The biggest and most noticeable change will be moving back to a single long fixture facing the tillpoint. This will have confectionery along one side. The other side, facing the chillers will hold crisps and snacks, as well as some ambient fruit and veg.

This will replace our ‘island’ layout which we have at the moment, where we have three separate islands. We first did this to create new sight lines so that customers could see the fresh and chilled section more easily.

We have now accepted that the island layout makes confectionery and crisp shopping more difficult while having little impact on fresh and chilled sales. You live, you learn.

Team trial

Also taking up a lot of our management time in recent weeks has been a restructure of the team in the store. As previously highlighted, we’ve decided to run without a manager and instead have shift supervisors. We have also given every member of the Woodlands team specific responsibilities.

These include:

  • Hot food and food to go management
  • News management
  • Lottery and scratchcard management
  • Shopfloor compliance management
  • Insight and marketing management
  • Licensing compliance management

In addition to these specific tasks, we have also allocated several key tasks to our team of shift supervisors. These include:

  • Banking
  • Reporting
  • Ordering
  • Hygiene
  • Stock control – particularly on cigarettes and alcohol
  • Dealing with reps
  • Promotional ordering and management

We know it’s a system run by many retailers so we’re hardly reinventing the wheel, but we feel that the potential benefits of bringing in a new manager are outweighed by the potential downsides of upsetting a team balance and harmony that is arguably better than it has ever been.

This new structure is then supplemented by the process-driven set of procedures that we have put in place for pretty much every action that takes place in the store, as explained in last month’s issue.