Raven's Budgens, Abridge, Essex

Store manager Goran Raven talks about how increasing store space, promoting online and changing suppliers has all helped to increase customer spend:

When did you get involved with the business and how has it evolved over the years?

I started working for my father 20 years ago and then I took over the business when he passed away.

The most important change since I have worked here was two years ago when we invested in expanding the store from 2,500sq ft to 3,000sq ft. We basically utilised all of our old office and store space and turned it into an additional sales area. At the same time we changed from being a P&H Mace fascia to Budgens.

The changes included expanding most of our ranges, adding in a proper take-out coffee service, a large bakery, fresh fruit and vegetables and a full food-to-go range.

What is the demographic and footfall like?

We are on a very busy commuter belt in a village that is surrounded by a green belt, and it is quite an affluent area.

What competition do you have locally?

There is no other competition in the village at all and the nearest supermarket is six miles away. There is a Tesco Express four miles away.When we expanded the store the change was immediate and we more than doubled our turnover. We kept a similar increase in footfall but it is what we could leverage from the customer that made a difference to our turnover. Basically we are now able to provide a complete offer instead of bits and pieces of your grocery shopping. We have a full convenience range and an “off-licence plus”, so we now have a big choice.

What sells well in BWS?

We have a large selection of alcohol now. The old store had 3m of chilled beer and white wine and when we did the refit this went up to 6m. We have 4m of red wine, three for ales and cider and we also have a supply of Laithwaite’s wines and Champagnes, which are at the premium end. Laithwaite’s does very well for us and it appeals to the demographic. We have £40 bottles of Barolo and they are selling, plus we have reasonably good sales of Laurent- Perrier Champagne. We have tied in these premium wines with our Cook frozen food by placing the Laithwaite’s wines next to this area.

We also have mid and lower- priced ranges and a good selection of drinks in each. We do price-marked multipacks in beers as we found the turnover was greater for these than other formats of beers. Our old supplier was more about mid to low-end tiers of products so its great now that we can also offer the more premium tier, and Budgens definitely works much better for us. It also has some great ranges of its own. For example, the Secretary Bird range of wines does really well for us.

We are also seeing huge interest in our spirits, with gins as the top sellers and vodka not far behind. We went from four or five gins to 15-20. 

We are now expanding our pre- mixed drinks range to include more canned chilled drinks, such as pre- mixed G&Ts in cans.

What else do you do to help drive BWS sales?

We run promotions on Facebook for alcohol and they work extraordinarily well. We did a popular one earlier this year for Gordon’s Pink gin.

We recently offered a magnum to the winner of a Campo Rioja competition and although we only have 300 followers we saw great engagement with this, and it reached 8,500 people.

We see an instant uplift in sales when we promote something on Facebook and we make sure the price point is very prominent in any images we post. People can be afraid to try new things, so if we are promoting and pushing something people trust that and we have seen great uplift.

When I first started using social media for the store I thought it was a bit of a gimmick but I was shocked at the uplift in sales. One of my early posts was a picture of a Peanut Butter Snickers that I had just started stocking in the store and 20 minutes later someone came in asking for one. That was the first time I realised how effective it could be as a marketing tool.

Aside from that we also have wine festivals, and we work with Budgens to arrange these. They do well for us.

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