Convenience and CTN chain Mills Group is to remove own label products and reduce the number of in-store promotions in a move to focus on fresh and chilled lines.
The retailer, which is ranked 18 in The Grocer Top 50, will phase out its Today’s food and household items to concentrate on branded goods, increasing the number of stocks of bread and morning goods, cakes, biscuits and snacks while reducing range overall.
It is also trialling 10 metres of fresh fruit and veg, ready meals and meat refrigeration in 10 stores.
Commercial director John Porrett said: “Fresh and chilled is the way forward for the convenience sector. In a 1,000sq ft store you do not need so
many tins and packets.”
Promotions will also be reduced after research found that 60% of customers did not buy the promoted items and were confused by the number of offers.
“At the moment it is quite cluttered through promotions, we want to make it more focused,” Porrett added. A survey of 2,500 customers, which was conducted earlier this year and will be repeated in February 2005, showed that its shoppers wanted high levels of customer service and availability.
To target availability, Mills Group will be reviewing planograms every three months and is in discussion with suppliers to ensure an effective supply chain.
Aiming for top customer service it will introduce a 13-week training programme for new managers in January 2005, building on the fast-track training programme for 18 to 25-year-olds that is already in place. Porrett said: “We cannot compete with the likes of Tesco and Asda on price but we can on customer service.”
Mills Group is also to launch pet, home, motor, breakdown and holiday insurance through a partnership with financial firm BIB. Leaflets about the services will be available in store, backed up with a website and helpline.
Amy Balchin