Paul and Gail Mather - Sherston Post Office Stores
Paul and Gail Mather of Sherston Stores in Wiltshire entered the Partners for Growth Challenge, in conjunction with the Bestway Regional Development Awards.
By putting Partners for Growth to the test in their store, not only did they see a 42% increase in their laundry category sales (worth approximately £1,500 annually), but they won their regional challenge. The prize was a business evaluation and mentoring session with a Retailer Advisory Panel member, plus £500 to help make some of the suggested changes.
On visiting the store, Retail Advisory Panel member Ramesh Shingadia noted that it was evident that it was already a well-run convenience store with post office, and acted as hub for their local community. It was also immediately apparent that the Paul & Gail’s team were motivated, clear and passionate in their roles.
However, after spending the day with Paul and Gail, reviewing the shop and asking them searching questions about their processes, plans, and visions, Ramesh identified a number of areas where he felt Paul and Gail could further strengthen their already successful business proposition.
- Development of a business plan with short and long term objectives
- Benchmarking their store fundamentals with other convenience stores, to give context of how their business is performing, i.e. customer numbers, average spend, profit margins per category
- Review pricing strategy with view to increasing basket spend whilst maintaining business fundamentals of fair value and exceptional customer service
- Identifying ways to increase sales per ft2 from £10/ft2 to £15/ft2
- Making the store a destination shop for beers, wines and spirits by:
- Highlighting the value and range
- Increasing the space given to the category
- Optimizing the purchase price versus retail selling price
- Maximising ice cream sales through ranging, freezer location and POS
- Review range and merchandising across Partners for Growth categories
- Introduction of a customer panel to gain feedback
Paul Mather commented,
“First and foremost we felt very flattered for such a high profile expert to take the time out to visit our store. Both Gail and I can safely say that talking with Ramesh helped focus our mind on the key areas for development, and we feel his suggestions have already had a positive impact on the business”.
Paul and Gail felt that looking at their business from an outsider's view gave them a different perspective and allowed them to identify further opportunities for growth. Hearing about different business principles allowed them to consider whether elements of these could be useful for them, for example charting category performance and setting targets for increasing spend by category.
What difference can Partners for Growth make?
Since the session, a number of the recommendations have been put into action, particularly ‘quick win’ items such as purchase of a “Village Shop” sign, re-introduction of plant sales and re-merchandising the laundry and toiletries categories using Partners for Growth information. This has proved extremely successful with a 42% increase in laundry and 20% increase in toiletries sales.
Another area of focus has been to improve their beers, wines and spirits range and merchandising. They spent their £500 prize money on a new fixture, and they’ve also introduced a more comprehensive range of wine.
Paul and Gail are also looking to the longer term with a focus on whether to remain independent or join a symbol group, what their eventual retirement plans will be, how to benchmark category sales and using Partners for Growth advice on an ongoing basis in other categories.
Under the Mather’s guidance, Sherston Stores were already an award-winning store, so with the advice of the Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel, not to mention the £500 prize money, we hope that this will further improve the stores performance and outlook.
Watch this space for further updates on Paul and Gail’s progress!