In June 2005, Bob Surridge, MD of Anglian Convenience Stores, ranked 38 among The Grocer Top 50 independent retailers, outlined plans to convert all of its 21 stores to the HeadS fascia. The process is now complete and Surridge says he is delighted with the results. Stores look fresher and more modern and sales performance has justified the rebranding, he says.
In other areas, Anglian Convenience Stores has found the past year an uphill struggle. Surridge cites complaints about increases in the minimum wage and utility costs. "Utility costs are horrendous," he says. "We're paying at least 100% more than we were three years ago."
The rising overheads have meant Anglian Convenience Stores has less to play with when it comes to store acquisitions. That has meant that its estate has remained frozen at 21 stores, despite plans to reach 25 stores by June this year. Surridge says: "At the moment all the good stores are being snapped up by guys who have pots of money."
He refers to the recent acquisition of Craskes Supermarket and post office in Horsford, near Norwich by the East of England Co-operative Society, saying: "We've been looking at that store for years, but we just didn't get a chance."
The upheaval of switching from ISDN to broadband to make Anglian Convenience Stores' ordering system compatible with Nisa-Today's also held back development plans, says Surridge.
Surridge has been looking into setting up a tea room in Heacham, but so far this idea has not got off the ground. However, plans to set up a DIY store have come to fruition. Martham DIY opened in February at Martham, in the Norfolk Broads, next to one of Anglian Convenience Stores' existing c-stores. But the venture is a one-off, insists Surridge: "There are too many Focus and B&Q stores out there."n