n It's the village store with a difference, a big, classy independent that is also at the cutting edge. Helen Gregory visits Jempson's Jempson's must be the envy of many independent retailers ­ a traditional family company with progressive ideas whose new store has almost doubled weekly takings since it opened. Tucked away in an affluent corner of East Sussex (it's Paul McCartney's local), the Peasmarsh-based shop professes a desire to become the Harrods of the south east using premium products and the personal touch. There may only be 400 households in the village, but the reputation of Jempson's means shoppers travel to shop there. George Jempson originally bought a baker's shop in 1935 which gradually evolved into a self-service grocery store. The original building was demolished and converted into 250 shoppers' parking spaces at the start of the year to make way for a brand new purpose-built store next door. Now grandsons Andrew and Stephen are running the show as joint MDs and pulled out all the stops for the new look ­ even employing a retail design consultant. Says Andrew: "Retailing is about entertainment and we try and instil theatre. For example, people can see into the bakery, where we make bread from scratch." The store carries 28,000 lines and offers an instore bakery, butcher, deli, hot takeaway, petrol station and restaurant. It even runs a loyalty card scheme and a cash for schools scheme. New features include a food to go counter, Belgian chocolates, books, CDs and videos, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a fresh fish counter. The brothers now plan to install a popcorn machine, waffle maker and Japanese and Thai ready meals. New customer services include an ATM and hampers made to order, and there's also a post office and business centre. The instore restaurant is popular in the day but to boost evening figures Jempson's plans to introduce all-you-can eat meals for £5. Meet the Expert evenings invite shoppers to demos by department heads. Forward-looking IT includes mobile customer scanning kiosks around the store which shoppers can use to check prices and call for help. And a hi-tech queue management system for the food counters, when installed, will automatically announce people's numbers and monitor queue times and bleep extra members of staff when the store is really busy. New modern tills with touch screens and hand-held scanners updating prices and ordering electronically mean that the store can keep better control of stockflow, profit margins and promotions. Admin costs have dropped 50%, staff have been redeployed to customer-facing roles, and floor space has doubled without any extra staff. It all means Jempson's can negotiate better supplier deals. "Suppliers give extra support in exchange for sales information and customer loyalty is enhanced as shoppers see clear evidence we are keeping up with the multiples," says Stephen. The family aims to be competitive on standard items and sends out Nisa promotional leaflets to 40,000 households every three weeks. Jempson's has been a Nisa member since 1982 and can't praise the wholesaler highly enough. Stephen says: "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them." Other plans for the business include a bigger own label range in fresh food, but the pair acknowledge that it's brands that draw people in. To this end, they've gone so far as to appoint category champions across the store. In return for a sponsorship fee (worked out, pro rata, on business size and turnover), these firms get their name above the signage ­ for example, Dolmio is branded above the sauces sign ­ as well as prominent positioning and guaranteed extra space during promotions. There are now 200 category champions and the brothers reckon they've got space for about 50 more. n STORE FACTS BOX Store size: 33,000sq ft Employees: 115 Opening hours: 7am ­ 9pm Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday CAPTIONS {{SPOTLIGHT }}