Despite the multiples’ entry into convenience, there is still plenty of scope for growth for other retailers - if suppliers adapt their products and packaging, delegates at the conference heard.
Somerfield head of formats Doug Hall identified fresh as a big opportunity, as much on a petrol forecourt site as on the high street. “Fuel and fresh is a powerful proposition,” he said.
However, he added: “Food to go is a key challenge and suppliers have been slow to grasp that innovation is needed.”
Musgrave Budgens Londis marketing director Stephanie Rice agreed. “Suppliers come to us thinking grocery not convenience.”
Convenience retailers and suppliers alike needed to respond to consumer demand for healthy, local, premium and value foods, she said, adding that MBL had redesigned Budgens’ own-label range to focus on healthy and was promoting premium brands such as Duchy Originals and Green & Black chocolate more aggressively.
Brand clustering was another useful tool, suggested BP UK marketing director Chris Sedgwick. He pointed to BP Connect’s Wild Bean Café, launched three years ago. “It is a very high margin business for us and an increasing number of people are coming in to buy coffee and then fuel rather than buying fuel and then coffee.”
He added that he hoped for similar success from BP’s tie up with M&S Simply Food, launched a fortnight ago at eight pilot sites.
It was up to the retailers to lead the way, said Rice. “Our retailers have to be progressive. Convenience has lost out to Starbucks, Benjys and Pret a Manger. That’s our major opportunity: to take business back that should belong to us.”
As The Grocer went to press, Coors Brewers was recalling a batch of its Reef Orange and Passion Fruit RTD amid concerns that some bottles may burst on handling due to a build up of excessive carbonation. The 700ml bottles being recalled had a best before date of 31/05/06 and Lot Code LY5140B.

Costcutter is poised to trial an in-store café concept in its 1,800 sq ft store in Eltham, East London. According to Appean Sharmar, owner and manager of the store, the café will include a rotisserie and serve take-away food with a seating area.

Dobbies, the UK’s second largest garden centre group, has opened Farm Foodhalls in four of its 18 stores. The first hall opened in Melville, Edinburgh, followed by one in Ayr a month later. Two more halls, in Stirling and Ponteland, have been added. The halls specialise in locally sourced produce and a broad delicatessen overlay, offering a wide range of premium and gourmet products.

RHM, the maker of Hovis and Mr Kipling, will float on the London Stock Exchange with an offer price range at 228-285p per ordinary share. Although the price range values the company at approximately £875m-£975m, it falls well below previous estimates of £1bn-£1.3bn.

Brewer Greene King this week won the battle for East Anglian brewer Ridley’s. The 163-year-old brewery in Essex will shut with the loss of 75 jobs and Ridley’s IPA will stop brewing. Other ales, such as Old Bob and Golden Prospect, will continue. Suffolk-based Greene King paid £45.6m for the company, which included 73 pubs.
Batch recalled
in-store Café trial
Dobbies foodhalls
RHM floats on LSE
Ridley’s deal done