British Food Fortnight gives local stores the opportunity to interact with the community, says Michelle Gravelle

Supporting our local communities has been a priority from day one.

But it's not just about hosting events or raising money for local charities, it's about creating a great local store and being there for people. Events like British Food Fortnight give us another great platform to achieve this aim by working closely with people in our area and bringing to life the Budgens brand essence of 'real food for today's communities'.

This will be the seventh year Budgens has sponsored BFF, and each year we have launched campaigns to coincide with the event. This year is no exception: we will be encouraging children from primary schools local to our Sawston and Sawbridgeworth stores to grow their own fresh herbs from seed. For the campaign we will be distributing seeds, pots and plant growth diaries.

Children will also receive rulers to measure their plants' growth and will be encouraged to dream up dishes they would use their herbs in.

The stores will be central to the campaign with classes, together with their teachers and assistants, being invited along to learn about the food they eat, and where it comes from. Many children don't know where their food originates from, so we walk through the store with them explaining the provenance of the different foods. They also have the chance to work the tills, see the back office and the stockroom, which will be a highlight since we will have just had our Christmas delivery.

Our walls will also feature the youngsters' entries for a drawing competition we have launched in conjunction with the "grow your own" campaign. The competition, which invites children to paint their growing plants in their fantasy homes, will culminate in us visiting the schools to present certificates and prizes to the winners.

It's great to share local and British food and to give the children an understanding of where our food comes from. BFF is also a great opportunity to showcase local food.

More than 15 local producers from within a radius of not more than couple of miles from each store will visit us throughout the event to show off their produce to our customers. Producers including Felton Orchard, which supplies Budgens Sawston with apples and apple juice, and sausages and ham supplier Priors Hall Farm, which often supports our community barbecue events, will be providing tastings in store.

The event is a continuation of our community work. Given the credit crunch and high level of job losses in the community over recent months, we've worked alongside local charities to demonstrate that it's possible to feed a family of four three meals a day for a seven-day week for under £60.

This involved partnering with OWL, one of our local charities, which supplied a chef and café venue, while we donated the food for the event and £60 of food and wine for one lucky person. The event included cooking demonstrations on how to cook healthy, low-cost meals, and every customer received a set of recipe cards. Other groups donated crockery and utensils, making it a true community initiative.

And when the local community bus at Sawbridgeworth was threatened with closure, we took on the sponsorship, along with others in the community. The number of runs has now increased from just two to six days a week. It starts and finishes in the Budgens car park and on Thursdays we offer a 10% discount to anyone travelling on the bus. We have jute bags, too, with our branding and website details on. Every time a customer doesn't use a new plastic bag we donate 1p to a local charity in our 'pennies for plastic' campaign.

Real support for the community is about getting involved and creating a genuine local hub for the community. British Food Fortnight allows us to cement our place at the heart of the communities we serve, and is an opportunity not to be missed.

Building a community hub

1) Make your store a destination, through competitions, events and tastings
2) Support local good causes and get involved with charities
3) Showcase local produce and invite suppliers to get involved
4) Aim your promotions at the people who need them most

Business Barometer

How much stock do you buy online?
All: 9%
A significant amount: 11%
Not much, but I want to increase: 8%
None: 72%

How much of your stock is delivered?
All: 28%
A significant amount: 20%
Most: 14%
None: 38%

I need more frequent fresh deliveries to help me compete.
Agree: 25%
Disagree: 34%
Don't stock fresh: 3%
Don't get deliveries: 38%

Have you given any thought to British Food Fortnight?
No: 17%
Not aware of British Food Fortnight: 83%

How significant a sales impact will British Food Fortnight have?
Don't know [not given any thought]: 17%
Not aware of British Food Fortnight: 83%

New in my store: Colin Landsburgh, Spar Carnoustie

Location: Carnoustie, 10 miles north of Dundee
Type of store: Large convenience store
Main suppliers: CJ Lang (Spar Scotland)

How often do you get new products in?
Every week.

What new products have you started stocking recently in your store? Walkers Extra Crunchy Crisps, Cadbury Spots v Stripes Challenge Bar, and new ranges of curry sauces and greetings cards.

How did you find out about them? Via Spar's three-weekly promotional bulletin.

Which products are selling particularly well? Spots v Stripes and Walkers Extra Crunchy both came in a couple of weeks ago and are selling well. Both are displayed in floor stands for maximum impact. Both products are being bought by old and young alike reflecting the fact that our customer base is pretty diverse.

Which products are selling badly? Tertiary brands aren't doing quite so well. Once we stock the brand leader and the very good Spar own label, there's little need for another.

Have you delisted any products recently? We regularly review our ranges, and delist slow sellers in order to accommodate all these new lines.

Are there any other products that you've got your eye on? We are looking forward to the new range of Spar ready meals, which we're planning to promote soon. We had a prior tasting and were very impressed with them.

Propertyof the week

What: Convenience store and family accommodation
Where: Southampton, Hampshire
How much: Offers in region of £1.2m

Situated on a prominent corner position on a busy main road into the city centre, Al Fresco comprises a well-fitted ground floor retail space and a five-bedroom, self-contained flat on the first floor.

This modern store boosts a free-to-use ATM, Paypoint and preparation and service space for a bakery. Opened in July, the store's weekly sales for the first six months of business are expected to be at least £25,000.

Christie & Co is marketing the freehold of Al Fresco, with offers in the region of £1.2m. For further information on this business contact Daniel Bowyer of Christie & Co on 01962 844455.