Source: Budgens

The symbol group has so far signed up 36 stores which are ‘up and running’ with another 84 in the pieline

Booker has set out to open 150 new Budgens stores this year, which would take its estate to almost 500 sites.

The symbol group has so far signed up 36 which are “up and running”, with another 84 stores in the pipeline.

The 36 recruited so far take the Budgens estate to 360, from a baseline of 324.

“It was a really aggressive and ambitious target, but we’ve had a record start to the year and we have a lot of people knocking on our door,” said Booker Retail Partners sales director Stewart Fenn.

The 150-store target, which falls in line with the symbol group’s 150-year anniversary, comes as Booker has put greater focus on value across the Budgens estate, driven by a rollout of the Jack’s own-label range.

A rollout of more than 500 lines, which offer a minimum margin of 30%, began six months ago and is set to end in the next few weeks with 400 lines currently available.

The discounter brand will be replacing Booker’s own-label ranges Happy Shopper, Discover the Choice, and Farm Fresh.

Jack’s will, however, continue to sit alongside 100 Euro Shopper lines and branded premium products to give a ‘good, better and best’ range proposition. “Part of the Tesco Family” will also be included on the Jack’s packaging to give retailers and consumers “reassurance of Tesco quality at a competitive price mark”.

“About two or three years ago, we knew we had a real challenge on our own label and when we looked at our competition and listened to our retailers, we knew we needed a credible range,” said Fenn. 

“Own brands are becoming more and more important based on what’s going on with the economy at the moment, so in hindsight we couldn’t have timed it any better.”

The range was showcased at the Budgens store in Rowley Regis, Birmingham, visited by The Grocer this week, which has seen fresh sales increase by 30% since the Jack’s range was introduced.

Budgens has also relaunched its Fit For The Future initiative, which acts as a guide to retailers in identifying new opportunities to increase sales, footfall and cash profit. It also looks at ways to help retailers save more money, such as via new ranges, exclusive deals and service partners.

One key area was helping to bring down energy bills. The symbol group said it was working with Saffron Business Solutions in putting together a group energy deal.

“We’re currently in the process of signing up as many retailers as declare their interest,” said Fenn. “The more retailers who sign up, the better the deal.”