We couldn’t do without…

Scottish c-store retailers offer their product and category recommendations for 2016

Asif Akhtar, Premier Smeaton Stores.


Key category of 2015: Basic convenience. Things like bread, milk, toilet paper. Staple products like that.
Must-stock products: For me, to be a ‘must stock’, it has to be price-marked. People are very money-conscious and they expect that.
Category changes made in 2015: I’ve brought in more milk from the cash & carry at £1 and more price-marked bread. I’ve also increased my range of chilled produce. We didn’t used to have that much, but now I’ve got a new chiller with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
Favourite product added in 2015: This year, Booker brought out two new flavours in its Euro Shopper energy drink range, price-marked at 69p – sour cherry and sour apple. If I was to take them off the shelf there would probably be outcry.
Focus for 2016: I’ll be looking for more of the own-brand products that the cash & carry brings out. I keep a variety of the bigger brands, but in my area it’s predominantly PMPs and own-brand that sell.

Sid Ali, Nisa Mintlaw.


Key category of 2015: Our chilled section is nearly overtaking alcohol sales. That’s something I didn’t expect, but it’s helped this year that Nisa has revamped its whole Heritage range.
Must-stock products: In our neck of the woods, energy drinks like Monster and Rockstar are doing huge business, up by about 400%. The other thing is bananas. We used to struggle to sell them, but Nisa’s done a better deal and we’re now selling loads. We’re going to start putting them at the till points.
Category changes made in 2015: We’ve put in a new section for chilled snacking – sandwiches, pies, that kind of thing. It’s all grouped together now and has been a phenomenal success.
Favourite product added in 2015: There is one that stands out head and shoulders above the rest and that’s Nesquick Snack dessert four-pack. We’re selling two or three cases a week. I honestly don’t know why. I think people have just taken to it.
Focus for 2016: There are two areas we’re definitely going to concentrate on. One is beer. We want to get rid of all the non-Scottish beers and concentrate on the Scottish ones. The other area is specialist gin and vodka. I think there’s phenomenal growth available there.

Kathryn McCusker, Spar Hawick.

Kathryn McCusker

Key category of 2015: In the morning it’s staples like newspapers, milk and bread. In the evening, alcohol.
Must-stock products: Cigarettes, because smokers are the ones that are guaranteed to come into the shop every day.
Category changes made in 2015: We’ve just completed a shuffle-round of the whole shop, moving our main food chiller from the back to the front, adding more ready meals and food to go.
Favourite product added in 2015: The Mars Teasers bar has been really popular. We started stocking it in both sizes this year and it’s been a wee diamond.
Focus for 2016: We’ll keep working with the chiller, see what’s selling and not, and keep trying different things.