‘Be famous for excellent availability and a smaller number of great products’
Retail consultant Richard Hyman of Richard Talks Retail gives FFD his view on how the independent sector has fared and what it should do next.
In many ways, fine food retail has had a good crisis. After years of being taken a bit for granted, the idea of the local shop and the specialist that is ‘there for you’ has been greatly enhanced and magnified. The public now value these shops more than they did.
That said, to suggest that decades of market trends are going to reverse, and people are going to forego the supermarkets in favour of shopping local is crazy, but I do believe life in general is going to be a bit more community-based and even this small change could have big sales impact.
If a fairly small number of people regularly spend a little bit more than they did in an independent retailer, that will be a huge boost for them.
However, we are facing a very sobering economic outlook in the coming years. We are in for a deep recession, and we need to accept that in order to respond appropriately. The extra cash in people’s pockets will dry up and you need to be ready for that.
One of the basic fundamentals of retail economics is how fast you turn your stock – the faster you turn stock, the more financially efficient you are, but most retailers have too many product options. People think if they have the space, they should fill it with more lines. But if you are a specialist food retailer, being famous for a wide choice shouldn’t be on the agenda.
Be famous for excellent availability and for a smaller number of great products instead.
I’m a big believer in focus – at any time, not only in the current climate. You’ll turn stock quicker and you will be able to negotiate better deals with your suppliers. Having a carefully edited range is a really good thing. Focus on the lines you consistently sell quickly. To do this, however, you need to be able to identify what you sell well and what you don’t.