Premier Kenninghall, Norfolk

Premier Kenninghall was due to be converted into a hotel until the current team, led by Mike Humphreys, took over. Humphreys saw an opportunity to transform the business and has managed to double turnover since taking on the store in 2011. DRN caught up with him to find out more:

What changes have you made over the years?

There used to be a separate post office here but when we took over we removed it and it gave us a nice area to use for other things. We chose to use it to house our BWS section.

Can you describe your store and local area?

It is a local village shop but I think it is one of the best in East Anglia. We take £22,000 per week, and people travel in from a lot of the neighbouring villages.

There are no local shops that have anything like the same range of drinks we have, and people come from at least 20 miles away for our BWS section – gin in particular.

We get about 2,000 customers each week and we are growing 15-18% year on year, with a lot of that growth down to BWS – probably two-thirds.

The nearest supermarket is about six miles away but our focus on different spirits and wines and local products helps to attract people to our store.

What sells well in BWS?

We have a lot of local brands as these tend to do well. We have about 20 or 30 local beers and cider, and then we have 15 Norfolk gins. Gin is really popular and we now have about 110 other gins on top of the local ones. We also have a collection of rum, brandy and malt.

The top seller out of all of our spirits is Norfolk gin. We did a gin tasting event before Christmas and that was by far the most popular. All of our best-selling gins are local, apart from Gordon’s. We do local vodka and whisky too.

When we first took over we recorded £500 a week on alcohol if we were lucky, but now it’s £5,000 a week.

Six months ago we tapped into the gin bandwagon so we went from 10 to 20 then 40 and now 130 gins, with all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours such as marshmallow or candyfloss — and it’s all helping to drive great BWS sales.

They are selling so well that we just keep increasing the range. We source most of our spirits from Hammonds of Knutsford, although we add the local ones on an individual basis. Spirits in general are growing by 52% so we have been adding more premium spirits as we get good margins on these. It surprised me, to be honest, as I thought spirits were quite specialised, but they really seem to appeal to a lot of customers.

What else have you done to your BWS section?

We used to just stock wine from Booker but we have expanded beyond this now.

Six months ago a customer told me he wished we had more wines to choose from. I looked into it and added some wines from Enotria. So now we have “good, better, best” tiers in wine, with the best ones now added from Enotria, probably 15 to 18 of these in total.

It means we have a new tier of wines, particularly red wines, priced at £9.99 to £14.99. We are definitely seeing a lot of interestin these as people want something slightly different in wine.

The majority of our customers naturally shop from the “best” tier though.

How do you keep customers coming back?

I use social media to let people know if I have any special offers or tasting events coming up. And I share details about new gins we might be about to stock. We did a great tasting event for gin and whenever I do posts on Facebook about gin it gets a good response. I posted a wine picture recently on Facebook and it got 8,000 hits.

Have you had to increase security measures in store?

We have three cameras overlooking spirits but we are lucky because we don’t see any real theft in this area.

We have spirits such as Crystal Head priced at £50 per bottle and we probably have stockholding of £7,500 on the shelves, but we don’t see theft as an issue.

It’s a fairly affluent area. One customer spent £120 on one shopping visit recently, with most of this total stemming from spirits and wine.

Related articles: