It’s a well-known fact that getting the chilled fixture right has been a perennial challenge for convenience retailers.
But, according to new figures compiled for The Grocer by Bridgethorne Shopper Research, there now seems little doubt that more and more outlets are cracking fresh and chilled - and reaping the considerable rewards.
As one of the UK’s leading chilled food suppliers - with a portfolio of brands including Mattessons, Richmond, Wall’s and Cheestrings - this apparent step change is obviously welcome news, and something that we have been helping to create.
Bridgethorne’s study found that 21% of us are now regularly shopping for meat, poultry and fish at small supermarkets and c-stores, compared with 18% just a year ago, while c-store operators of all shapes and sizes are correctly identifying fresh produce and meat as a key growth opportunity as the nation’s shopping habits continue to change towards little and more often.
As part of our ‘Building a Nation of Chilled Experts’ programme to help convenience retailers grow sales of chilled, we conducted research to try and discover the potential size of the chilled foods prize - and it’s huge. Already worth £3.8bn in convenience alone, our model shows that, as a direct result of the inroads that many convenience retailers are already making in chilled, sales will grow organically by more than £700m over the next two years.
However, our model also shows that by following best in class advice - such as that offered via our new online advice programme at chilledexperts.com - there is a further £1.5bn of chilled sales that could be unlocked over the same period. All retailers have to do to find out more is log on, follow the prompts to ascertain their current level of chilled foods expertise, and then build sales by following a series of tips.
The model, which advocates that retailers should aim to reach for one of three levels of chilled food retailing - Get Chilled Fit, Build the Basket, or Destination Chilled - has already been used by hundreds of retailers to grow their chilled sales.
But we have found that there has been a more significant impact, too. Retailers who have followed our model have not only recorded an instant rise in sales of their chilled offer, but have also experienced a significant uplift in sales across the store. So much so that one retailer we conducted pre-launch trials with found that, after growing and overhauling his chilled fixture in line with our advice, his customers’ average basket spend across the store rose from an average of about £5 to more than £7 per visit.
We are also managing to change retailers’ misconceptions about chilled regarding wastage and high investment. Retailers in our programme have discovered that there really are only benefits for convenience stores that improve their chilled offer.
In short, this is a very exciting time for chilled food within the wholesale and convenience channel. By working with top suppliers and following best in class category advice, retailers have never had such a great opportunity to win in chilled.
Ian Garrett is sales director, convenience, at Kerry Foods