CONSUMERS visiting the Best-one store and Post Office in the Dunbartonshire village of Cardross don’t all realise they’re popping in to an award-winning shop.
It’s certainly not a huge unit. It offers an excellent c-store range and crucial post office service out of just 800sq ft of trading space. And owner Wendy Morrell is modest about her success.
In fact she took not one but two titles at the 2013 Scottish Grocer Awards, at her first time of entering. In her first triumph she was judged tops for getting two product categories that are essential to just about any c-store (bread and milk) right, when she was named Scottish Grocer’s Bread and Milk Retailer of the Year 2013 – an award presented in association with two of the biggest names in food and drink retailing, Müller Wiseman Dairies and Warburtons.
And it goes to show, as our judges found when they visited last year, you don’t have to be big to do the everyday essentials very well indeed.
Faced with high demand and limited trading space, Wendy never lets her standards slip. Bread and milk are faced up and replenished every hour – thanks in part to the famous mooing Wiseman cow clock. Deliveries come in daily apart from Sundays.
“I’m proud to say we never run out of bread,” she said. “Any retailer who thinks they’ve done a good job if they sell out by 4pm hasn’t realised that they’re missing out on their key selling period.
“Our busiest time is from 4 – 7:30pm, which is mainly commuters coming in off the train. For us, Mondays and Wednesdays are the two best days for bread and milk sales, which is probably due to people stocking up after the weekend or after they’ve got their pension.”
Bread is supplied by Warburtons, with the bestseller its 800g White Toastie loaf.
“This sounds a bit like an advert for Warburtons,” she joked. “But it does so well because it’s a quality product and our customers really like it. I’ve tried other types of bread but no, they want Warburtons.
“People trust a certain brand, which is why we focus on bestsellers.”
In her view, the key to sales success in both categories is finding a balance, which for her means allocating her shelve space at roughly 80% for bestselling products and 20% for other items.
“The right product, the right place and price-marked products all contribute to sales,” she said. “It’s the staples that really sell, but things like Warburton’s Sandwich Thins and sliced Tiger Loaf are doing well.”
“But people here are open to trying new products,” she said. “I decided that because it’s a new year I’d get the full range of the WeightWatchers bread from Warburtons and see how they go. We have sold quite a few.”
Bread is one of the first things shoppers see on entering the Cardross store. Set on six one-metre shelves facing the door, it was moved to the front of the shop during the last refit in 2012 and the re-location has resulted in a 300% increase in sales.
Wendy worked with Bestway business development executive David Bateman, using the company’s store modelling tool, to analyse what was selling well and make the most of the space in the shop.
Previously her bread selection consisted of two shelves stocked with two varieties of wrapped Warburton’s loaves. Now Wendy stocks eight times the range she originally had on offer. Today four shelves feature a variety of wrapped bread and two are reserved for other varieties such as fruit loaf, sandwich thins, wraps and pancakes.
It’s a similar story with milk. Previously it was on the bottom two shelves of the chiller at the back of the store. Now it’s on the top right shelves and can’t be missed.
The move was a combination of merchandising advice from Bestway, Wiseman’s planograms and Wendy’s own thinking. Her way of ensuring success is taking hints from Wisemans, but adding her own ideas to make sure she’s effectively serving the local market’s needs.
Where variety has extended the bread range, consumers are less keen to branch out with milk products. Wiseman’s two-litre semi-skimmed is the biggest seller, with most consumers buying single units at a time.
Healthier milk products have also proved popular, however. Wendy has found that Muller Wiseman Dairies’, purple-topped 1% fat milk The One has increased in sales in recent years.
Wendy has enjoyed owning and running the Cardross store but she’s now selling it.
Although she may not be be at the store much longer, she hopes the new owner will develop an in-store baking section. The shop is already kitted out with an oven.
So it might only be a matter of time before Cardross consumers who drop in for their regular milk and Toastie loaf will be greeted by the smell of freshly baked bread, rolls and pastries at the 800 sq ft shop store that beat the big boys to become Scottish Grocer’s 2013 Bread and Milk Retailer of the Year.
Our winner: life and times
Wendy Morrell – Scottish Grocer Bread and Milk Retailer of the Year 2013 – in association with Müller Wiseman Dairies and Warburtons
Size: 800 sq ft
Opening hours: 7.30am – 7.30pm Mon-Sat, 8am – 1pm Sun
Staff: Two full time and four part time
Period at store to date: 14 years
• This was the first time Wendy had entered the Scottish Grocer Awards. She said it was one of her most amazing experiences.
• She took over the store in 1999 when it was turning over £300 a week.
• In her 14 years at the store it has been through three major refits. The first, in 2003, extend the shop floor area. The second, in 2008, changed the Post Office to an open plan counter. The third, in 2012, included the installation of a large open-deck chiller, now used for soft drinks, across the extended wall.
• Wendy and her family – children Adam and Lucy and husband Malcolm – raise funds through the store to help children at a school in Kenya. They started the collection after a family holiday in that country. The money helps the children get an education and at least one hot meal a day.