Pitched as a great opportunity for retail, many say the Olympics has failed to deliver. We asked our masterclass how they’ve handled the Games - and whether it’s been a good run

How were the Olympics for you?

Vadhera: We did see some big spikes on the bigger Team GB days, especially on beer sales on the Saturdays. Naturally, we did sell more products on the Olympic ends because there were some good promotions there. However it’s hard to say whether or not we can attribute the uplift in sales to the good weather we had or the Olympics. I’ve been having conversations with other retailers and a lot of them say they didn’t see any uplift.

James: Combined with the recent spell of good weather, we have seen an uplift in sales. We were extremely busy ahead of the opening ceremony.

Which categories have benefited most from London 2012?

Maloney: It’s hard to say whether it’s been the Olympics or the weather that has contributed to this, but we’re 5% or 6% up on last year across the business. Charcoal sales have gone through the roof, as have barbecue products like sausages and beer. Pizza is up too. It shows people have been staying in and having a pizza and a beer. Last Thursday and Friday, people seem to have been staying in to watch the larger events.

James: Barbecue, soft drinks and beers, wines and spirits. Through the use of PoS, we very much promoted the Olympics in store.

Meet this month’s masters

  • Sanjeev Vadhera is business development director at North East Convenience Stores, operator of 18 stores and four Post Offices from North Yorkshire to Northumberland.
  • Jonathan James is managing director of James Graven, a family-run Norfolk and Cambridgeshire business of two supermarkets and two forecourts.
  • Vince Maloney co-owns Maloney’s Budgens - a three-strong chain of supermarkets with stores in Ascot, Shepperton and Virginia Water - with his brother Dennis.

The sponsors expect big returns for their Olympic investment. How have they worked with you to realise this?

Vadhera: We noticed a huge involvement from the main sponsors in 2012 in terms of branding, PoS, in-store activity and targeted promotional activity. Regarding returns and sales, the biggest question - as with the Games themselves - is whether there will be any legacy once the Olympics is over. I hope the answer will be yes.

The activity leading up to and during the Games will prove to the sponsors that mutually beneficial relationships have been created and it would be a shame for all that to end now the Games are finished.

James: We have given prominence to Olympic-branded products, as well as having promotional areas in store. I’ve no doubt the increased marketing opportunities for the sponsors will produce an uplift in sales of their products in general, but it’s too early to see the impact. As a community retailer, the Games have stimulated various events at a local level, many of which we’ve been directly involved in. The ‘feel-good factor’ can only be a good thing.

Maloney: We have seen good sales of Cadbury Gold Medal chocolates. These are incremental sales they wouldn’t have seen if they hadn’t done that sponsorship. I wouldn’t have said we sold any more Procter & Gamble products than we would have anyway. I would say that in terms of the average person on the street, they don’t know the difference between P&G or Unilever. I wouldn’t have said we’ve sold more Heineken [another Olympic sponsor] than we would normally sell. All the beer brands have been on promotion.

So will the Games leave any sort of a legacy for retailers?

Vadhera: Our stores are all based in the North East of England and the question is, will this momentous event actually affect the UK’s regional economy and specific categories in our stores? It’s difficult to say so far, but we experienced an uplift in sales in those categories where we planned targeted promotions and excellent retail execution.

One other thing we have started seeing is a slow down on trading on Sundays and we feel that can be attributed to the longer opening hours of the multiples on Sundays. This could be the start of the end for c-stores’ traditional increased sales on Sundays.