Amy Balchin revisits Kendal to check out how Booths’ exciting new concept is performing in the Lake District town

When we featured the new Booths’ store in Kendal in our Top 50 special report last month, many readers wanted to find out more about the amazing concept being pioneered in the Lake District. So here it is in all its glory!
Booths, which is ranked number three in our Top 50, has been in the town for 50 years but found itself outgrowing its existing store. So last November it relocated to an 18,000 sq ft two-level site, with a separate local produce shop and an upmarket restaurant using this food in its dishes.
The striking steel, glass and stone construction - Booths’ 26th store - stands on the site of what was once a derelict printworks. Much of the Lakeland stone excavated during the construction work was incorporated into the structure.
While the multiples are moving out of the high street, Booths’ strategy is to do precisely the opposite.
“We have always been in the town centre and wanted this store to be - it is an antidote to what everyone else is doing,” explains marketing director Lincoln Clarke. “We do not build boxes on the edge of town,” he says. “Our sites are sympathetic to their surroundings and that is a very important part of who we are and what we are about.”
Another objective was to ensure the store was not too large so that it could be shopped comfortably. The minimal non-food range reinforces Booths’ position as a retailer focusing on a premium food offering.
Entering on the ground floor, shoppers first encounter customer services, a tobacco and confectionery kiosk and news stands. The main shopping area begins with fresh fruit and vegetables and the bakery, while specialist counters, including fresh fish, meat, hot food, cheese, a delicatessen and an olive bar, line the rear of the store. The drinks section is located in a corner, differentiated by its flooring design and signage and in the centre of the shopping space are the fresh cabinets, ambient goods and frozen. Clarke says the layout was designed to keep things simple and attract customers to the specialist departments: “It is very straightforward - the destinational areas are the counters and wine section.”
Stairs lead down from the supermarket to the Artisan shop on the lower ground floor. Local produce including cold meats and delicatessen items are displayed here along with bread in wrought iron shelving. The restaurant is adjacent to the shop.
The Kendal complex is located in Wainwright’s Yard, a development of small independent shops and boutiques with pedestrian access to the high street through an alleyway. This area is still growing and, according to Clarke, provides a high-quality retail environment suited to Booths’ offer.
In terms of competition, the nearest food store is a Marks & Spencer, which Clarke says operates well alongside Booths since both have different strengths. While M&S is strong in ready meals and has the attraction of clothing, Booths focuses on the provenance of its food and locally sourced products, he says. “Our customers are less inclined to eat ready meals and more inclined to cook a meal from scratch.”
Asda and Morrisons are also nearby, but being sited out of town tend to attract a different type of shopper.
The Artisan format has proved enormously successful, according to Clarke, and this concept could be drawn upon when devising other stores. “The Artisan aspect is a major difference from other stores and something unique to Kendal,” he says. “We are delivering a high-quality restaurant experience in a store environment - that is the big advantage we have over other stores.”