Wholesalers explain symbol benefits for retailers

New year, new fascia: Symbol groups ready to support you through cost-of-living crisis

THE cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on convenience store retailers just as it is on their customers.

And such challenges mean that many of them may well be considering changing their symbol group partner.

Shopkeepers will be looking to team up with a wholesaler who not only provides them with an attractive deal and assistance but also has a range of products that will convince consumers that they are getting value for their money.

Fortunately, for those considering a new fascia, there is no shortage of options on offer from Scotland’s quality wholesale sector.

United Wholesale (Day-Today and USave)

United Wholesale (Scotland) has a strong presence, with more than 500 Day-Today and USave stores in communities north of the Border.

Exterior of Stenhousemuir Day Today store
Fresh approach: The modern Day-Today fascia is said to stand out from its rivals.

The Day-Today fascia is said to offer retailers a fresh, modern and professional image that stands out from its rivals and is backed up by a fantastic-value core range.

A store development programme aims to keep independent retailers ahead of the competition, while a consumer campaign is underpinned by high-quality point of sale material.

Further attractions include in-store promotional activity every three weeks, cutting-edge technology, business development and merchandising support and a capital costs financial package.

U-Save is the wholesaler’s no-fee, entry-level symbol group that has many of the same benefits, including category management planograms and drop shipment services.

The company also offers own-brand goods, labelled Lifestyle, with a price-marked, economy range of everyday groceries and household products providing great profit on return and low RSPs.

Spar Scotland (CJ Lang & Son)

Spar Scotland/CJ Lang bosses highlighted the strengths of their Scottish and international background.

Interior of Spar Crosshouse
Flagship: The Crosshouse store could tempt retailers to sign up to Spar Scotland.

Company-owned stores operations director Steve Irons said: “Retailers get the advantage of being part of a Scottish wholesaler who is consistently raising the bar but with an international name.

“You get the benefit of being behind a brand with international drive. A retailer in Motherwell or Aberdeen will get the benefit of that international knowledge.”

Marketing manager Paula Middleton pointed to the high-profile tie-up between Spar Scotland and the SFA – including sponsorship of the women’s national team – and the firm’s regular TV adverts.

She said: “The Value on Your Doorstep campaign is key – shouting out to customers all the great deals they can get at Spar stores across Scotland.”

Irons also explained that the products in a store and the advice given was bespoke, with its offer focused on price, range, being competitive, value and supporting retailers with the best possible margin.

Independent sales director Brian Straiton added: “We’re refreshing, refitting, rebranding and investing heavily into our core estate, which has delivered our flagship store in Crosshouse. We see this as a turnkey opportunity for attracting new independent retailers to join Spar Scotland.”

JW Filshill (KeyStore)

JW Filshill has 140 years of experience in the Scottish convenience sector and its KeyStore brand is one of the most recognised in Scotland.

Exterior of KeyStore Kilbowie Road Shop
Key findings: JW Filshill staff really enhance the KeyStore shopping experience.

The forward-looking company believes its success is due to the strong relationships it has with its customers and especially its suppliers. Symbol promotion via social media and YouTube, targeting postcodes with a KeyStore, is evidence of a thoroughly modern approach.

And the firm has a lot of plans for 2023, including a refresh in POS design, more use of data, a focus on value for money in its promotions, greater use of marketing and support for retailers as they prepare for the rollout of the Deposit Return Scheme.

Filshill chief sales & marketing officer Craig Brown said: “With our KeyStore brand, we are committed to offering a service and a suite of benefits that will help you outperform your competitors.

“From our customer service team to our individual sales representatives and our business development managers, we believe that we offer the best sales support of any business in this sector.

“Our people make the difference and we visit our KeyStore estate on a daily basis. We also have a dedicated KeyStore Community Fund, aimed at helping you raise your profile.”

Lifestyle Express

United Wholesale Grocers operate the Lifestyle Express symbol group in Scotland. With nearly 2000 stores carrying the fascia across the UK, it provides the pros of a major chain without the costs.

Benefits of joining are said to include an average 30% increase in sales – which rises to 36% by upgrading to Lifestyle Express Evolution.

The symbol group also offers up to £1000 cash back a year, while its retail development managers help gain maximum sales/profits per square foot.

They work to understand the store needs and customer base, as well as identifying opportunities. And core range advisers use data to recommend sales drivers.

Lifestyle Express signage and graphics enhance the look of a store and its customer appeal. And the group offers regular national and local promotional packages to give store owners a competitive edge.

Shop Local


Meanwhile, Shop Local is a retailer scheme to drive more footfall to stores through key promotions and impactful POS. Available to stores of any turnover or size, there’s no membership fee and subscribers get a free fascia and window graphics.

Bestway Wholesale (Costcutter and Best-one)

Bestway Wholesale, which has the Costcutter and Best-one symbols north of the Border, believes it has a strong package both in terms of products and store support.

The store front of Cost Cutter (on top) and Best one (on bottom)

Trading director Kenton Burchell said: “The Bestway category tools help retailers to see the range of products they need to stock in-store to meet their customers’ needs and demands.

“We work with suppliers to get the best-value priced products to help customers get through the financial crisis and stock own-label brands that are value for money.”

The Costcutter symbol also has a ‘Drive to Thrive’ programme to support retailers on shopper insights, brand and range advice, space guidance and store execution.

As well as category advice planograms, gondola displays allow shopkeepers to cross-merchandise the categories and create an in-store theatre to emphasise promotions. Burchell said: “The Costcutter development team transform the store design to connect with customers and bring a great shopping experience.”

Booker Group (Premier and Londis)

Booker Group is best known for its Premier and Londis fascias in Scotland. With more than 3,800 stores nationwide, Premier is the UK’s largest and fastest-growing symbol group.

It operates a 100% no-cost model, with no joining, membership or weekly fees, and says its focus on value enables independent retailers to grow their sales and profit.

Exterior of Premier Greenock Store
Top choice: Premier is the largest and fastest-growing symbol group in the UK.

It also offers retailers the chance to stock “a fantastic choice of great-value own-label products” and fresh produce direct from the grower.

Londis is also growing rapidly, with more than 2,000 members across the UK. It says it has unrivalled buying power, lower costs and the best promotional package in the sector, with minimum profits on return of 20% on core deals.

Members also benefit from a 100% cost-free model and the chain has a dedicated store development team, is focused on the latest trends and has plenty of promotional and seasonal events to drive sales.

Booker also provides a wide range of branded and own-label products, and runs a spend-and-save scheme that offers up to a 5% discount and a free ShopMate EPOS system, with only service fees payable.


Nisa promises its retail partners that it will “provide fresh thinking to ensure you can create the best customer offer in your local area”.

That’s backed up by what Nisa claims is the best-in-market fresh proposition that has helped double store turnover for its partners.

Nisa retailers also have access to 2,400 Co-op products across all categories. This includes quality core convenience essentials as well as a premium ‘Co-op Irresistible’ brand.

Support is provided by fresh food and store development managers, as well as experts who provide the latest insights and new perspectives to help retailers grow their businesses.

Another attraction is the Fresh Rewards scheme. For an annual subscription fee, it allows for a rebate of up to 5.5% and enables retailers to offer consumers budget-friendly Co-op products.

Nisa in Paisley
Nisa Paisley benefits from access to 2,400 Co-op products.