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Budgens retailer Visanathan Yoganathan (‘Yogan’) has given a new lease of life to a store in Ruislip, that used to trade as Budgens until it closed last year. He invested in a full store redevelopment and now his focus on value, customer service and offering a point of difference have paid dividends with weekly turnover reaching £28,000, just a matter of weeks after the store opening, well ahead of the £21,000 a week forecast for the year end, and despite strong competition in the town, including a Tesco Express just two minutes walk away.

‘Yogan’, who owns other Budgens stores in Queensway, College Park, Radlett, Watford and Weyhill bought the 1,900 sq ft store in Ruislip earlier this year and officially reopened the store as Budgens at the end of April. The launch was celebrated with a free bottle of wine for the first 100 customers and money off vouchers were included in the consumer leaflets distributed locally prior to the launch, offering customers £2 off when spending over £10 in store for the first four weeks.

As with all Budgens stores, there is a strong fresh offering in the new-look store, which consists of 3m produce, 2m chilled drinks, 1m fresh meat and 8m dairy. With a focus on offering ‘real food for today’s communities’, fresh food now accounts for a staggering 48 per cent of the store’s turnover.

A key element of the refit also included moving the kiosk from the front of the store, where it blocked out all the natural light, to the side. The result being that it has opened up the store considerably and the store is now much brighter and customers comment that it also appears much bigger.

A 7.5m run of chilled beers/wines was introduced, increasing the range by about 20 per cent and adding a chilled element for the first time. There are now more multipacks of beers and more promotional activity to support the range.

‘Yogan’ is no stranger to competition. His Budgens store in Radlett is just six shops away from a Tesco Express, but ‘Yogan’s’ clear strategy to focus on value, customer service and points of difference has worked in one store and he’s determined to make it work at Ruislip too.

The value message is prominent in all the point of sale as well as the consumer leaflets, which are distributed every three weeks through the Royal Mail. Previously the store had no promotional ends, now there are three – two dedicated to grocery and one to beers/wines/spirits.

His clear focus on customer service is evident in his team of staff, who he transferred from a Budgens store that he had in nearby Harrow Wealdstone (and has subsequently sold to a Londis retailer). He invests in training for his staff and his store in Radlett was the first in the group to attain Investors in People.

‘Yogan’ also looks to offer a point of difference to the competition, and with Budgens Ruislip that’s hot food to go and coffee. The store is next to a train station, so the ‘grab and go’ offer is ideal for commuters, with a selection of pies, pasties, rolls and coffee to tempt them on their way to and from work.

So far the store’s weekly turnover of £28,000 has been achieved without Payzone or the lottery. Payzone has just gone in and the lottery has been approved, but waiting to be implemented. These are expected to drive sales further forward and will be heralded with another customer leaflet drop.

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