As the top multiples continue to invest in convenience formats, independents and smaller c-store chains need all the ideas they can get to fight their corner.
As a result, CRS is dedicating areas which provide a wealth of inspiration for retailers that won’t cost them a packet.
And who better to supply that inspiration than retailers themselves. In the C-Store Central zone, the Ideas to Take Away area, sponsored by Cadbury Trebor Bassett, will feature video presentations from 10 traders talking about schemes that they have made work in their business, saving them money and boosting their profits.
Among them are the manager of Spar Tates in Farnham Common, Bucks, who will explain how canvassing shoppers on what they believed they needed from a c-store helped to build business.
Representatives from c-store chain Jacksons will be explaining how they targeted student shoppers in Hull and the difference it made to trading.
The United Co-op, in Warrington, will feature its Employee of the Month scheme and explain how it motivates staff.
Store manager Nick Bullough says: “The scheme keeps morale high among the team, encourages customers to return to the store and ensures they are consistently receiving better customer service. I felt very proud to take part in the filming.”
United Co-op’s Alison Stubbs, manager of a store in Kelsall, Cheshire, will show how her campaign to sell local produce has benefited her store. She says: “I wanted to take part in filming to highlight to other retailers that it is possible to be part of a larger organisation and provide a service dedicated to the local community.”
Stores will be demonstrating novel ways in which they were able to add value to generate profit.
Ram Karavadra, assistant manager at a Mills Group store in Leicester, offers sunbed sessions to his customers. “It is a real footfall driver,” he says. “We get up to 15 people a day using the sunbed and then they buy soft drinks instore.”
The Open All Hours store in Keswick Cumbria, will give an account of how its personalised wine bottles helped win more sales. Other video presentations will be made on effective marketing of a store and how to give customers best value for money.
And the ideas will not stop there. Spontaneous Consumption is a new area dedicated to the latest developments in the food to go sector.
Companies exhibiting in this section will offer samples of products on show elsewhere at CRS. They include George Adams, which will be displaying its range of luxury pasta salads. Ginsters will present its range of fresh savoury snacks and sandwiches, while Unilever Bestfoods UK, which is sponsoring Spontaneous Consumption, will offer 6,000 free samples, both of its new Pot Noodle variant Seedy Sanchez and Lipton Ice Tea.
And if that doesn’t satisfy visitors’ appetites, CRS organiser William Reed Exhibitions will be attempting to make up the world’s largest lunchbox. At last year’s show it broke the record for the world’s largest sandwich.
The bumper feast will include an outsize bag of crisps from Seabrook Crisps, giant chewing gum from Wrigley and a massive Pot Noodle.
And, after being fed all the new ideas and possibilities for building a better business, visitors will have a chance to mull over the ideas they are interested in with a visit to the new Taking Stock area at C-Store Central organised by Farrugia Leo Research and Consultancy.
The company will employ creative thinking techniques to facilitate dialogue, including one-to-one interviews and group brainstorming sessions.
Or, if that seems a little too energetic, visitors can simply grab a coffee and chat with colleagues.
Sarah Farrugia, consultancy owner, says: “The area is about enabling people to talk to and learn from each other, giving them time and space to think in an environment that is relaxing, and encouraging them to say, ‘I can solve that issue’.”