Freshstop pegs growth strategy on expanding food lines

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With South African consumers increasing their spend with retailers who offer them dedicated, quality food lines that offer choice and variety, a solid food strategy is integral to being successful in South Africa’s convenience retail sector. The introduction of the branded food lines within a convenience retail environment not only builds customers’ affinity with that brand but figures prove that where a quality and trusted food line is introduced, basket size immediately increases.

FreshStop, the largest and fastest growing convenience retail brand in South Africa, has introduced two new branded food lines to their branded food stable.  The two new additions, Hot Dog Bar and Africaz join the existing food lines, Crispy Chicken, Grill to Go, Hooked On Fish, Doughnut Delite and Biltong Bars. “Convenience retail brands must have a solid food strategy to be successful and our selection of fast food concepts with low costs of entry and shared operational expenses form part of the future view of our business,” says Michael Joubert, APC brand manager at FreshStop.

FreshStop launched its first in-house fast food brand, Crispy Chicken, in 2014 and it quickly gained brand traction and customer support. “Chicken is still the biggest food driver in SA and our Crispy Chicken brand has proved how popular this protein is and what a difference it can make to a business’ bottom line,” says Joubert. “We currently have 41 Crispy Chicken outlets nationally and we plan to roll-out an additional 8 to 10 outlets this year. We have recently revitalised the menu to offer our customers the most popular and best value lines. At the recent store opening at FreshStop Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape where a Crispy Chicken outlet was introduced, the store experienced a 250% increase in turnover.

According to Ali Gafoor, store retailer at FreshStop Sea View in Strandfontein, the Crispy Chicken outlet has impacted his business enormously. “We can now give our customers more variety and a good quality product. They are able to find value in the price and they’re very happy with the Crispy Chicken brand, even saying that it’s better than our competitors. The quality and taste of the product has been the main driving factor. “It’s also had positive impact on our basket size with an average increase, post the initial wave, of about 20% weekly. I would definitely recommend that retailers add a food line such as Crispy Chicken to their offering. It requires a lot of hard work but it’s a great way to add value to your store”.

FreshStop’s 2nd most popular food line, Grill to Go, has 10 outlets nationally with eight more planned this year. With a 57% year-on-year growth, the Grill to Gobrand offers customers a healthier grilled option such as delicious value for money grilled chicken and beef burgers and is in some instances outperformingCrispy Chicken in terms of growth. And with eight stores nationally, the Hooked On fish and chips offering will be refreshing its strategy, product offering and turning towards a more ‘old school’ methodology of selling fish, chips and calamari in the next few months.

Doughnut Delite complements FreshStop’s Seattle and Lavazza coffee offering and fills the confectionary gap.  “Doughnuts work so well with coffee and it’s an easy product for customers to pick up and go. With margins of up to 60% the outlets are doing well, so we’re planning to roll out eight to ten outlets this year to add to our existing ten,” explains Joubert. FreshStop’s approach gives franchisees a basket of food offerings to choose from to suit their specific customer base and location, at affordable entry costs. According to Joe Boyle, Director at FreshStop, “Our Store Retailers want to be in a position to offer their customers new local brands and food lines to attract further shoppers and drive sales. Retailers can select various concepts that complement one another, such as aSeattle Coffee and Doughnut Delite; or a selection of two proteins such as Crispy Chicken and Hooked On Fish to cover various target markets”.

The two new food lines, Hot Dog Bar and Africaz, add new interest and themes to the food offering as well as appeal to new customers. There are currently sixHot Dog Bar outlets nationally with an additional two stores planned for 2018; and figures show that these outlets work particularly well at FreshStop at Caltex forecourt sites that have a car wash and customer demand for a low-value quality quick meal.

The latest and most exciting food line, Africaz, was launched in three FreshStop stores in KwaZulu-Natal. The flame-grilled chicken concept specialises in grilled chicken pieces and a burger offering served with its unique Africaz sauce and has shown great value with sales in excess of 60% of store turnover and has added phenomenal value to FreshStop’s overall business. “The Africaz flame-grilled chicken offering is the best food at the best price with great branding and we are excited about piloting five stores in the KwaZulu-Natal area this year,” says Joubert.

“Over the years, we have learned that where there is a focused food strategy, the brand will do well.  Convenience food is growing across all retail sectors and it is currently contributing to about 25-30% of our business where we have foods service offers, and we know that our core food service lines will be the growth point for our Re-Fresh and new store conversion strategy. We are also working on adding a few new lines to the Crispy Chicken, Grill to Go, Hooked On Fish and Hot Dog Bar menus this year to keep our offering fresh, but at the end of the day, it is pride in our product that will be the difference between an average offer and an amazing offer; customer satisfaction is the bottom line. Our in-house brands are a business within a business and we need to enforce that our customers get the best possible product each and every time,” adds Boyle.