Joining the Club

Retailer Iqbal Sadiq was unsure how the revamped Kensitas Club would perform at St George’s Post Office and Spar Maryhill, but the repositioned brand is already the top selling cigarette SKU in store

Iqbal Sadiq (left) has been impressed by the rapid rise of Kensitas Club in his store

DARK gantries, standardised packaging, minimum pack sizes and no advertising aren’t the best ingredients when it comes to relaunching a brand, but it’s the landscape in which JTI has revamped Scottish heritage brand Kensitas Club.

At Iqbal Sadiq’s St George’s Post Office and Spar in Maryhill, Glasgow, that revamp has been a huge success despite the legislative challenges, with JTI introducing existing adult smokers to the brand at a rapid rate. 

Launched earlier this year, the revamped Kensitas Club has been shifted to a new price point, with JTI opting to position the well known brand as a value proposition.

It’s a move that Iqbal Sadiq wasn’t sure about, but he has been happily proved wrong.

“My initial feelings were it wouldn’t be my top seller,” said Sadiq.

“Yes I thought I would increase sales a bit, but they proved me wrong. Within a week it jumped. Kensitas Club is now my top seller.”

Since the brand was repositioned at a lower price point earlier this year it has become his top seller, with the new Superking variant also making waves as the fifth biggest seller

The leap in Kensitas Club sales at Spar Maryhill is impressive. Sales for the brand over the ten weeks to 17 June 2017 were respectable, with Kensitas Club King Size sitting seventh in Iqbal’s cigarette rankings, with a total of 224 sold over the period.

Comparing that figure to the same period in 2018, however, paints a much improved picture with Kensitas Club now the top seller at Spar Maryhill, shifting 1099 packs over the 10 weeks to 16 June 2018.

It’s a huge jump and one that can be attributed in large part to the lower price point, but that doesn’t tell the whole story according to Iqbal.

“In the old days people were loyal to a brand, you stuck to a brand,” he said.

“If you were smoking Silk Cut you usually stuck to Silk Cut. But moving forward, customers now come in and ask, ‘what’s your cheapest cigarette?’ No one is as loyal to a brand.

“The other thing is my staff got behind it. If someone came in they would tell them about the changes. So I think it’s down to my staff and word of mouth.”

Spar Maryhill staff member Jay Dee has been key to success for Kensitas Club

Iqbal added that staff member  Jay Dee, who spends a lot more time on the tills than the store owner, has done a great job selling Kensitas Club since the revamp, and Jay Dee confirmed that educating customers on the change has been at the heart of the brand’s growth.

Having enthusiastic staff who are happy to make a recommendation certainly helped Iqbal grow his Kensitas Club sales.

The other side of the coin is the quality of the store itself. Since opening his doors five years ago, Iqbal has invested heavily in his store.

Taking on a former pub site, Iqbal gutted the interior to install a Subway and a Post Office, both of which generate footfall for the retailer.  Iqbal’s Post Office is a busy one, serving both local residents and businesses, while his Subway franchise has managed to maintain its attraction and still pulls in the same figures as it did during the buzz of his store’s first month.

Iqbal said those footfall drivers were noted by JTI reps as key to the retailer’s ability to maintain cigarette sales among tough local competition.

“JTI did come in and say ‘look, in this area you’re probably one of the most expensive for cigarettes but you still sell the most, probably because of how nice the store is.

“You’ve got a Subway, you’ve got a Post Office, it’s clean, you’ve got music playing.

“There are customers who will penny pinch but most people like to shop in a nice place.”

Iqbal Sadiq’s well-presented Spar store was created on the site of a former pub

Since the relaunch of Kensitas Club, Iqbal has maintained the quality environment that kept his cigarette sales up in the past but through support from JTI he said he has also been able to come down to MRRP on both Kensitas Club King Size and the new addition, Kensitas Club Superkings.

The larger format Kensitas Club, which launched during the reposition of the brand, definitely wins the best-newcomer prize on the Spar Maryhill gantry.

In the months since Kensitas Cub Superkings first landed in the gantry, the new variant has climbed the rankings to become the fifth most popular SKU in store, selling 261  packs in the 10 weeks to 16 June 2018 – eclipsing the brand’s total sales for the same period last year.

Iqbal again said he was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Kensitas Club Superkings, particularly as it launched as a new product in a dark market.

“That’s a brand new product, you know? It’s always difficult with something new, but because Kensitas Club was a brand that was selling, people started moving over to Superkings.

“Within a week I was proved wrong.”

• Scottish cigarette brand Club received a makeover in February 2018, complete with the reintroduction of Kensitas to the name, a lower MRRP and the launch of a Superkings variant. Brand owner JTI introduced the revamped Kensitas Club at a new lower MRRP of £8 for a King Size pack.