The Beaumont family business has come a long way since Henry Beaumont began trading as a butcher in Kirkby-in-Ashfield more than a century ago. Today the firm, number 48 in The Grocer Top 50 independents list, has six convenience stores in Nottinghamshire with a turnover of £13m.
The company is run by Beaumont’s great grandchildren. Finance is overseen by chartered accountant Louise Beaumont, sister Alison Dove plays a human resources role while the retail side is managed by the two brothers Richard and Paul Beaumont and non-family member Les Rutherford. Like their great-grandfather, grandfather and father before them, both brothers worked as butchers. They later turned their hand to baking before moving into store management, eventually as directors.
JB Beaumont’s expansion began 40 years ago when John Burrell Beaumont opened a second outlet, in Bingham. This is now the highest earning store with sales of £66,000 a week, despite being one of the smaller locations at 3,500 sq ft.
The original store moved to Cockgrave in the 1920s and today the estate comprises that store, Bingham, Keyworth, Chillwell, Long Eaton and Gedling.
The success of the business is due to investment, good locations and dedicated staff, says Louise Beaumont: “We have good quality stores and very good locations.”
Based either in towns or in the suburbs of Nottingham, each store is well situated for local customers and under no real threat from the multiples, she adds. “All have a lot of houses around them and people have to travel a fair distance to get to the multiples. Our success is also down to excellent staff, we have people who have been with us 20 or 30 years.”
Sales were up from £12m to £13m last year and, while this is still rising, turnover in 2004 is not expected to increase at the rate of previous years. This is not, however, a cause for major concern.
There is increasing investment in the company, say Louise and Richard, which includes added refrigeration in two stores and a £300,000 refit at Cockgrave planned for early next year that will take the store up to 5,100 sq ft. Every year at least one shop has a refit.
Sixteen years ago John Beaumont became one of the earliest members of Costcutter and every store is a now a Costcutter.
There is a strong focus on fresh food and JB Beaumont prides itself on its fresh offer, generating £20,000 a week from locally sourced fruit and vegetable sales alone. The
chilled offer has doubled in two years and stores have a wide choice of fresh produce, a hot food counter, some have a baker and, going back to the Beaumont family roots, two have a butcher providing locally sourced meat. “We try where we can to source locally,” says Richard.
These strengths and differentiation are helping to attract customers who are increasingly turning to smaller outlets in favour of the large retailers, says Louise. “We think of our stores as small supermarkets rather than convenience stores and we do get people doing their weekly shop with us.”
She believes the consumer is increasingly recognising the value of shopping locally. “We have said for a long time the tide will turn to convenience stores and people are going to them more.”
The biggest worry for the business is shop security. After trying security guards, more staff on the shop floor proved a better deterrent. A security camera network with up to 16 cameras per store has also been installed.“We are getting convictions purely from video evidence,” Louise says.
Further expansion is now on the cards with plans to double the number of stores in the next 10 years. “If we can find the quality of stores, we will have no problem in doing that,” Louise says. But they are hard to find.
Her dream is to see the family business strong in years to come and, with five young children between them, the Beaumonts may well be able to hand over to the next generation.“That would be fantastic. But we will have to wait and see,” Louise says.