Premier’s new scheme to see retailers boost sales by up to 20% is being trialled at Mandeep Singh’s Sheffield store…and the initial results are very promising! Asian Trader reports.

Booker is encouraging its Premier symbol group members to introduce a series of initiatives it says will see them sell more and make more profit.
The raft of improvements include a modern, technology led revamp of the fascia, new in-store services such as Kids Zone, a new mission based layout with a reduced number of SKUs and demographic targeted deals.  
 The scheme was taken up by award winning retailer, Mandeep Singh (and his younger twin brothers, Vrinder and Baljeet), and introduced into their Manor Store in Sheffield – effectively proving to be Booker’s trial for the scheme. 
The band of brothers used a store refit and extension in December 2015 to implement the changes. A little over two months on and the boys are reporting a 35% increase in sales – with an impressive 45% increase in profit.   
“The sales figures clearly show we are selling more and making more profit,” says Mandeep.  
 So how have these results come about? The answer is a mix of additional services, improvements & upgrades, as well as a fair bit of cutting.  
 Firstly, the Premier fascia has been given a revamp and now includes new media screens, which builds on the Singh’s social media activity.  
 The three brothers – who like to call themselves TST (The Singh Team) on social media platforms – create a great buzz about their store by utilising Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to not only shout about promotions and offers, but also to engage the community with competitions and banter. They have over 13,000 likes on Facebook and over 5,000 followers on Twitter.  
 “When our followers ‘share’ our posts that’s when it gets really interesting because your message spreads really far really quickly,” says Mandeep.  
 The media screens display this activity and reinforces the team’s link with the community.  
 In-store, the introduction of a Costa Coffee machine is the first thing you see. At the centre of Premier’s new food-to-go concept, the machine is a real footfall driver and sign of quality, while surrounding it are meal deals galore, catered to the breakfast and lunch-time crowds and provided by Country Choice.  
 “We did a good morning trade anyway but we really wanted to attract the morning workers and white van man trade,” says Mandeep. “With mega deals like the Beast – a double bacon & double sausage in a bumper bap and regular hot drink – for only £4, we can compete with anyone.”
 Early signs are encouraging, coffee sales have grown to 20 cups a day, while overall morning spend has increased from £5 to £10, says Mandeep.  
 Opposite the food-to-go sector is a brand new concept from Premier – the Kids Zone. Eyes are immediately drawn to the self-serve slush machine, offering three different flavours.  
 “I saw a few of these behind the counter,” says Mandeep. “But the thing is kids really want to serve themselves as they know which mix of flavours they want and how much of each they want to go in.”  
 Fears about excessive mess are needless says Mandeep. “It’s not a free-for-all, they are usually quite tidy.”   
Selling at 80p a cup, the Singh’s make a healthy profit of 60p a cup, and they are currently selling 200 a week. “But in the summer we expect that to be around 600 a week.”
 The brothers will have to ensure the slush machine is constantly topped up and clean and tidy, but at these margins they are more than happy to put in the work.  
 While these are some of the new additions in store, there is plenty that has been cut back.  
 Premier encouraged the Singh brothers to cut back poor sellers, as part of a new category management plan. This meant that even though the brothers extended the store with the refit, their SKU count actually went down by 500 lines, from 3200 to 2700 SKUs.  
 “We hardly have any single facings now,” says Mandeep. “Single facings get lost in the crowd and become poor sellers. We double, even triple up on most lines and its working – we are selling more of what counts.”
 This is best evidenced in the soft drinks chiller, which now boasts a separate space for Booker’s EuroShopper brand. Here you’ll find all of EuroShopper’s soft drinks from carbonate, to water and energy, all price marked giving Mandeep 30% POR.  
 There are also mission specific mega deals and bigger packs to entice trading up.  
 The chilled and frozen cabinets now offer ‘Feed the Family’ deals such as Chicken Tikka Masala (meat, sauce and rice for £5) and Spaghetti Bolognese option for £4. They are merchandised together in a basket by the chiller making it easy for customers to pick up all the ingredients needed for the meal. As a result Mandeep’s meat sales have tripled.  
 Further along in the store you see XL packs of laundry detergent and 17kg bags of pet food, all to give customers more value.  
 Probably the best example of where SKUs have been taken out to the benefit of a category can be seen on wines. Mandeep says around a metre of wine has been cut, yet sales are up.  
 Martin Swadling, Head of Premier, explains the thinking: “We know customers want clear price points, so by taking out various SKUs and price points we’ve decluttered the aisle and allowed the bestsellers to sell even better.”
 He adds: “We’re rolling these changes out to stores that want it from April. It’s saying to our customers, where is the opportunity in your store for new sales and new profits?”
 Some opportunities will be relative to a store’s demographic, says Martin, and in the case of Mandeep’s store in Sheffield there is an interesting addition rarely seen in a symbol store – electrical equipment.  
 With quite a few university students in the area, Mandeep was persuaded to try selling simple kitchen appliances such as kettles, toasters and heaters for under £10. “They’ve actually sold better than I thought,” he reveals.  
While on another gondola end you will find an equally encouraging uptake of small equipment, such as mobile phone chargers, batteries and earphones, all at a £1 price point.
 While these items give the store a unique feel among symbol stores, Mandeep knows where the strong growth is coming from that fuelled his profit rise.  
 “Basically we have opened up all the ranges that are selling and making us more money.”

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