Celebrity chef cooks up a treat as Budgens opens in Bickley

Shoppers were in for a treat when celebrity chef, Simon Woodhouse, cooked up some ‘winter warmers’ for those who battled the elements to make it through the snow to the opening of the new Budgens in Bickley. Collecting products from around the store he created dishes, such as broccoli and stilton soup, for customers and neighbouring retailers. With many roads closed in the area for the opening week, most people were arriving on foot and glad of the opportunity to stock up at the new store. There was also a free bottle of wine for every customer spending over £10 in store on the opening day.

Independent store owners, Sunda and Kirit Patel, have over 20 years experience in retailing, most recently buying two other Budgens stores in Parsons Green (six years ago) and Woking (three years ago). Building on their experience and success, they’ve brought staff from their other shops to run the new outlet in Bickley, previously a builder’s merchant.

Like all Budgens stores, there’s a big focus on fresh food, with 21m of chillers to accommodate fresh foods and fresh produce. But it’s not just food that’s chilled. There’s also a 7.5m bank of refrigeration for chilled wines and beers. And, as customers continue to be driven by price, looking for value, there’s a host of promotions in store plus a fantastic range of Budgens own brand, including a ‘Good Value’ range confirming that Budgens really does offer ‘Real For Today’s Communities’.

Customers are delighted with their new shop, saying: “At last we’ve got a proper convenience store in our area.”

Fresh bread is baked daily, but the Patels have opted not to sell hot food or flowers. Says Sunda: “There’s a great coffee shop and a florist in the parade already. We want to work alongside these other stores to enhance the area, not to replace existing retailers. We’re delighted with the first few days of trading and working in partnership with Budgens we want to offer people in this area the very best in convenience retailing.”

Turnover at the 2,300 sq ft store smashed projected sales for the opening week and is on track to reach its projected target of £35,000 a week.

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Budgens and Londis launch range of crisps and snacks

Budgens and Londis have launched a range of own brand sharing bags of snacks, selling over 2,000 cases of each line in the first week.

The sharing bags come in five variants: onion rings, cheese puffs, bacon rashers, salt & vinegar sticks and prawn cocktail snacks. Competitively priced at 95p they offer significant margins to retailers.

Says Willie Hamilton, Budgens and Londis Trading Director: “As consumers continue to be driven by price, looking for best value, we continue to develop our own brand range and these new products offer a great product at a great price.

Also new, and available to Budgens retailers only, are 6-packs of crisps in three variants: variety, ready salted and cheese & onion (RRP £1.15). This extension of the Budgens own brand range follows the launch of the award winning Good Value 12-pack crisps last year.

These own brand launches form part of an extensive range review on sharing and multipacks to drive sales of crisps/snacks in store. The range management process focuses on core lines and improved availability, building ranges that are customer focused and challenge the slowest moving lines.

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Budgens divests first of its Somerfield stores to independent retailers

Last January Musgrave Group exchanged contracts with the Co-operative Group to buy 13 retail stores (previously trading as Somerfield) to become Budgens stores. The store in Chingford is the first to subsequently be divested to independent ownership, bought by Paul and Michelle Gravelle, who already own Budgens stores in Sawston and Sawbridgeworth. Says Dan Quest, Budgens Sales Director: “It was important that the stores should be sold to the right people, who would embrace the Budgens brand essence of ‘Real Food for Today’s Communities’, and in Paul and Michelle Gravelle I have no doubt that they’ll make a success of the business and take it from strength to strength.

In a matter of weeks the Gravelles have added £10,000 a week to turnover at the 4,800 sq ft Chingford store, with weekly takings rising from £60,000 to £70,000. Say Paul and Michelle Gravelle: “We’re delighted with the results. More importantly our customers are over the moon and say that we’ve ‘brought life back into the store’, which is just the best comment that they could make.

According to the couple the store was “in pretty good shape” when they took over. In addition to installing the latest Budgens imagery they focused on getting the right range in place and on staff training, revisiting staff schedules and customer service and every member of staff completed a training course with the Gravelles. “It’s important that they know who we are and what our plans are for the store, so that we can work together to make it happen,” says Michelle.

Then, closely following the Budgens planograms, every aspect of the store was relayed, with a particular focus on fresh and frozen. Opportunities to include local and specialist suppliers were also explored, with some fantastic results. A local supplier of homemade pies was introduced and over 200 were sold in the first three days. Priors Hall, a local supplier of quality sausages and bacon, was added to the range and sales of Cook frozen meals rose 40 per cent year-on-year after a range review. When Fatherson cakes were moved to a dedicated fixture at the front of the store, sales quadrupled from £100 to over £400 a week. Other ranges were rationalised. For example, adjacencies for news, cards and books were corrected, with a spinner replacing a 1.2m bay of greeting cards and stationery added to the range. A free-to-use ATM machine was also installed.

The value message has been key to attracting new customers and keeping old ones. Says Michelle: “Somerfield was perceived as offering good value, even though they were actually more expensive than Budgens on many lines. It was therefore important for us to make a big statement from the outset about offering great value for money.” The Gravelles used a strong opening offer as a footfall driver as part of their heavy-weight marketing activity for the store. The launch offer consisted of four products at 79p each – pre-packed bananas, 2.5kg white potatoes, The One milk and Kingsmill farmhouse bread. They all appeared on impactful displays at the store entrance and were flagged up on banners and posters both inside and out. But the Gravelles didn’t stop there. They also advertised the strong deals on the backs of buses. Says Michelle: “It’s been money well spent for adverts on 20 buses for four weeks at £2,500, plus adverts on headers inside 100 buses, all featuring our four key products.” The launch campaign also included sandwich boards up and down the high street, a tease campaign in local papers telling customers that ‘something is cooking at Budgens’ and 12,500 newsletters distributed locally.

The Gravelles used the launch day to confirm their commitment to supporting the local community by inviting local schoolchildren to come and cut the ribbon, giving each of them a rucksack full of goodies to take away and some literature for the parents. Suppliers were invited to the launch to offer tastings, Cadbury’s supported with free chocolate and some 2,000 Budgens goody bags were distributed at the nearby station and outside the local schools. Adds Michelle: “As part of supporting the local community we’ve linked up with a local charity, Haven House, who was also there for the launch.”

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Scally’s Centra is Ireland’s National Convenience Store of the Year

Scally’s Centra, Tullamore, Co. Offaly has been named as Ireland’s National Convenience Store of the Year 2010 by industry magazine, ShelfLife. The store is owned by Ben Scally, managed by Fiona Leavy and employs 50 people. Centra Tullamore also won the Gold Award in its size category of stores between 2,000 to 4,000 square feet. 

In presenting the award, ShelfLife editor Fionnuala Carolan said: “Scally’s ticked every box for all of our judges. It has easy access, plenty of free parking and extremely friendly staff that greet customers by name when possible. Scally’s is also a one-stop shop for all food needs and has a comprehensive non-food section. Their pricing is extremely competitive, with lots of special offers readily available. Additionally, the store also has the highest standards of food hygiene throughout and they are actively involved in their local community.

Of all the Awards presented on the night, Centra stores across the country secured seven, over three times as many as any of their competitors. The other Centra winners included:

  • Scally’s Centra, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – Platinum Award Winner and Gold Award – Winner – 2,000 to 4,000 sq. ft.
  • Casey’s Centra, Wellpark, Galway – Best Food to Go Department 2010
  • McClafferty’s Centra Gortahork, Co. Donegal – Best C-Store Off-Licence 2010
  • Scally’s Centra, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – Best Frozen Foods Department 2010
  • Ryan’s Centra Raheen Limerick – Best Fresh and Chilled Department 2010
  • Herlihy’s Centra, Bishopstown, Cork – Staff Bursary Award 2010
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Centra and DOE: Safe bikes please Santa!

Children from Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, North Belfast have helped the Department of the Environment (DOE) and Cycling Proficiency Scheme sponsor Centra remind other young people to ask Santa for the right safety equipment when he is delivering bicycles this Christmas.

Children across Northern Ireland will be hoping to find bikes under the tree on Christmas morning and the message is a simple one – don’t forget to ask Santa to leave a bicycle with a bell, helmet, reflective clothing and lights when you’re writing your letters to Father Christmas this year.

The pre-Christmas message is being promoted by the DOE and supported by sponsor Centra, as part of the Cycling Proficiency Scheme campaign, and aims to improve road safety awareness among children and parents.

The Cycling Proficiency Scheme is a DOE initiative sponsored by Centra and its 86 independently owned stores in Northern Ireland. Centra provides financial and practical support to the scheme, including help with the production of training resources for schools and raising awareness of the project among customers. Up to 9,000 school children aged 9-11 take part in Cycling Proficiency training at approximately 570 primary schools each spring.

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SuperValu helps big bus navigate recession

SuperValu stores across Northern Ireland have helped their community partner Action Cancer beat the recession by raising £23,000 in a week-long fundraising drive, organised to keep the charity’s Big Bus service moving.

Celebrating the fourth anniversary of the service SuperValu stores challenged customers and staff to donate their loose change, especially twenty pence pieces, during the unique fundraising challenge.

Generous shoppers and SuperValu workers collected the equivalent of over 115,000 twenty pence coins in just seven days.

The Action Cancer Big Bus was launched in 2006 by Gloria Hunniford, whose daughter Caron Keating died from breast cancer and over the past four years SuperValu has donated almost £900,000 to the service.

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Community spirit alive and well with Budgens in the snow

Whilst the snowy weather has undoubtedly created some challenges for both deliveries to stores and shoppers getting to stores, it has also been the platform to highlight the ways in which Budgens retailers and their staff can shine through their commitment to provide the best possible service to their local communities.

For example, Andrew Fear and his team at Budgens Mountsorrel rose to the challenge this week using their mini bus and a 4-wheel drive to ensure their remote shoppers, living about six miles from the store, were still able to do their shopping in the heavy snow.  With the minibus parked at the top of a hill on a main road, Andrew went from door to door to collect the shoppers in his ‘truck’, ferrying them one at a time to the minibus.

Said one grateful shopper: “I think they’re absolute angels. When I first heard about the Budgens pick-up and drop-off bus service I thought my neighbour was making it up. To come out and collect us in this weather is fantastic. All the staff in the shop are always so helpful and always smiling. I can’t thank them enough.

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Surrey forecourt joins Londis brand

Experienced retailers Siemi and Shoaib Khan re-launched their forecourt, Hylands Service Station, last week after leaving their previous symbol group and joining forces with Londis as their new retail partners.

Having worked in retail for more than 15 years the couple were keen to take their business to the next level and chose Londis after being impressed by the range of products on offer and the marketing services available. The 900 sq ft store had undergone a refit in recent years but with the help of their Retail Sales Manager and the Londis team, the store has been fully redeveloped to the latest Londis standards.

Under the Londis brand the service station now features an extensive range of chilled food within 7m of refrigeration for fresh bake-off and food to go produce, grocery, confectionary, newspapers, lottery and car care services. There is also a dedicated café selling Seattle’s Best coffee, from Starbucks, with freshly made sandwiches, baguettes and pizzas from their in-store bakery. In the forecourt there are 12 pumps and car wash and vacuum facilities for customers, available 24 hours a day.

Siemi and Shoaib, who have also signed up to the Londis brand essentials scheme said, “We have been really impressed with the support we have received from Londis so far. We’re also delighted with the quality of products we are now able to offer our customers and only wish that we had embarked on this partnership with Londis sooner.

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Londis recruits over 200 retailers in 2010

Londis continues to develop and strengthen its brand, recruiting more than 200 retailers to new stores in 2010 so far. One third of these numbers represent retailers who have switched from other symbol groups to join Londis and others include multiple account retailers, plus a broad range of store sizes and locations, including neighbourhood, convenience and forecourt formats.

These figures confirm Londis’ position as a leading symbol group of choice for retailers who are looking for a fresh approach to running their businesses.

With over 1,000 fresh products including; fresh poultry, meats and bagged salads, plus over 500 own brand lines including a ‘Good Value’ range, Londis offers customers ‘all they need for everyday living’ and this is also attracting retailers to the brand.  

Other key attractions for retailers is the dedicated support from Londis Retail Sales Managers, a loyalty scheme offering up to 4.5 per cent on purchases per quarter, no joining fees, the best shelf life products at highly competitive costs, plus access to over 400 promotions every three weeks – all delivered to a timed schedule, six days a week.

Paul Courtney, Londis Sales Director said “I’m delighted to welcome more than 200 new stores to Londis. These numbers illustrate the significant strides we are making and validates Londis as the partner of choice for independent retailers“.

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SuperValu and RTÉ 2FM’S Ryan Tubridy Play Santa’s Little Helper for the Society of St. Vincent De Paul

191 SuperValu stores nationwide become drop off centres for the ‘Toys for Tubs’ appeal

SuperValu has joined forces with RTÉ 2fm’s ‘Toys for Tubs’ appeal to make sure that no child is without a toy this Christmas morning. All of the 191 SuperValu stores nationwide are to act as drop off centres for the ‘Toys for Tubs’ appeal, which is being run by RTÉ 2fm in association with the Society of the St. Vincent de Paul (SVP). Giving couldn’t be easier, just bring your toys to your local SuperValu where the drop off point will be clearly marked.  For a list of SuperValu’s nationwide stores, visit www.supervalu.ie

Sue Lamon-Diver, Head of Communications, SuperValu said; “There are SuperValu stores on practically every high street, across every county in Ireland. Our stores are at the very heart of the communities in which the operate and are ideally placed to work hand-in-hand with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to ensure that toys can be collected and distributed in every county in Ireland. Our retail partners across the country are already embedded in their local communities, which makes us the ideal partner to support this fantastic Tubridy Show initiative.  Whether you are in Dublin or Galway, Dingle or Donegal, there is now a ‘Toys for Tubs’ drop off centre nearby and we would ask people to help if they can.

‘Toys for Tubs’ front man, Ryan Tubridy, added; “The response to this appeal has already been overwhelming. ‘Toys for Tubs’ is a simple idea, it doesn’t break the bank and people are assured that the new toy they give will make some child very happy when they open it up on Christmas morning. We are delighted that SuperValu has become involved and provided us with drop off centres all over the country and with their locations right across the country, we now have a collection point in practically every county.

Mairead Bushnell, National President, SVP said; “We are really pleased that SuperValu has become involved with this project. The nationwide nature of its stores reflects the community-based nature of the Society. The SVP has over 9,500 volunteers working in 1,200 local groups countrywide. As the largest direct service, non-profit charity in Ireland we help individuals and families who are struggling to cope. We depend almost entirely on support from the public and our need for funds this year, with calls for assistance up by 35 per cent, is absolutely vital. More information about the SVP and others ways to support the work of the Society can be found at www.svp.ie/appeal”.

If you want to get involved in the Tubs For Toys appeal and help all the children around the country who will be in need this Christmas, follow these simple steps:

  1. Buy a toy: Toys must be new with a minimum value of €10 – no second hand toys please
  2. Do not wrap the toy – We’ll only have to unwrap it and we don’t want to waste paper
  3. Drop the toy at your local SuperValu store

If you are struggling for gift ideas St. Vincent de Paul suggest One4All vouchers or talk to your local bookseller who is always able to recommend good books for kids of particular ages, and they will know what is popular.

Further information on Toys for Tubs is available on http://2fm.rte.ie/tft

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