Posted: 01/04/2020

“Now is the time for independent retailers to be more accessible to new customers”

View from HQ

I am not entirely sure we should be talking about this virus just in terms of ‘opportunity’.

Having endured cashflow crisis month (January) I would say it most definitely is one for independents but there are more words we can use to define this situation.

‘Unprecedented’? Now, there’s a word that has never had it so good. My generation has not known great crisis. No major wars, 3-day week, or rationing. I’m more than a little scared to be honest.

If ‘opportunity’ is on the table, then maybe we need to talk about ‘accessibility’. Now is the time for independent retailers to be more accessible to their existing customers and become accessible to new customers.

Some of the Guild team got on the phone last week purely to chat to members and other businesses in our community. We wanted to hear what they wanted from us as an organisation but also to have a good old-fashioned natter to increase morale.

It helped us shape our online fact sheets and survival advice (, and the regular e-bulletins that you should sign up for.

The over-riding message from the trade was that independents were being supported by their communities and many of them had met new customers who were avoiding supermarkets for health, sanity and food availability reasons.

Being accessible to all has been the aim of most delis and farm shops for years. There are very few elite shops and most decent folk I know in our trade want to sell well- made, well-sourced and delicious food and drink to everyone.

The idea thunderbolt from the recent Fine Food Show North (well-supported – thank you) was from Georgie Mason, Gonalston Farm Shop. She’s famously re-

engineered her retail offer to include Budgens. An accessibility stroke of genius when you consider that she increased her customer base from 87,000 to 133,500 in the 12 months after the re-launch.

Now is the time for independent retailers to be more accessible to new customers

That’s huge. And she thinks these additional 46,500 people had always been driving past her door. They just felt they weren’t farm shop people, but they could go into an upmarket c-store.

Therefore, the opportunity and the means of survival is being accessible to more people, whether that be in the shop, online or by delivery.

There’s ideas and help on our support page. Use it and contribute. We must ensure our businesses and our trade survives. Remind your customers that you are still there, help them, and at the end of it they will respect you more for it.

This story appeared in the April issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

Read more of the latest news from Fine Food Digest here

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