The People’s supermarket is to undergo a £100,000 revamp predicted to boost its turnover by 30% following a tie-up with Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore.
The member-owned co-operative ended its supply agreement with Nisa this week after less than a year.
Under the new agreement, AF Blakemore will fund a £100,000 refurbishment programme that will give the store a new layout, new refrigeration units, upgraded IT and till systems as well as training and marketing support. In exchange, TPS has agreed to use AF Blakemore as its main wholesaler for the next five years. It will also look to add a selection of Spar’s own label products to its range.
“The choice will be own label, the leading brand and then a brand of values, which could be organic, locally produced or have ethical packaging,” CEO Kate Bull said. In total, the number of SKUs sold by the social enterprise will increase from 1,300 to 1,800.
AF Blakemore was “totally respectful of our independence” and of TPS’s supply arrangements with 32 local suppliers, Bull said. “There are hopefully commercial advantages for AF Blakemore too, in that it should provide some insight about how to connect very directly with your customer.”
The agreement would also help TPS to establish a franchise model for other communities to open their own store, she added.
Its split from Nisa was a purely commercial decision, Bull said. “We wouldn’t be the attractive partner to Spar if it hadn’t been for Nisa’s help. Everything we have is borrowed and second hand. We needed to find someone who would help with capital investment.”
AF Blakemore recruitment director Louis Drake added: “We share a similar vision and both are keen supporters of local communities.”