Independent convenience store chain Dynamic Retail has revealed ambitious plans to expand its existing portfolio of eight stores as part of a strategy to establish its Scotfresh fascia as a major player in the Scottish retail marketplace.
Shaun Marwaha, managing director of the award-winning Glasgow-based business, has confirmed that the company is looking at a number of potential new sites across the central belt as it seeks to make Scotfresh “the most exciting name in convenience retailing in Scotland” and have 15 stores by this time next year.
Marwaha, who runs Dynamic Retail with his parents, Jack and Rita, brought in ex-Booker retail development controller Chris Gallacher as retail operations manager six months ago to help restructure the business and develop its existing growth strategy which has food to go at its core. The business remains affiliated to the Premier group and is Booker’s biggest retail customer in the UK.
“We’ve enjoyed an exceptional relationship with Booker and indeed continue to do so,” said Marwaha. “However, after taking the decision to grow the business very quickly – we had just three stores just over a year ago – we felt we wanted to shift the focus to our own convenience brand and develop our own identity in the marketplace.”
Well known in Glasgow retail circles, the family opened their first store – Jack’s – in Riddrie in the east end over 30 years ago. The group acquired its second store, Churchills in Glasgow’s west end, in 2009 with a store in the city’s Cardonald next to join the portfolio. Scotstoun, also in Glasgow, and Denny, near Falkirk, both opened last year followed by two outlets in Irvine, Ayrshire then Armadale in West Lothian just a few weeks ago.
“Growth has been swift but we are very acquisitive and see a great future for the Scotfresh brand,” Marwaha continued. “We’re working with Christie & Co to locate sites and expect to open further outlets in the coming months.”
Marwaha confirmed that food to go will be a key strand of Scotfresh’s future growth strategy with kitchens going into every store. Both Denny and Armadale already have state-of-the-art kitchens and these stores are being used to create menus and experiment with different product lines.
“One of Scotfresh’s points of difference will be food to go,” Marwaha confirmed. “Customers will come to recognise our stores as somewhere they can come to buy freshly prepared food to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner with everything from bacon rolls and ready meals to salads, sandwiches and coffee. It’s something we want to become famous for.”
Menus will change regularly to keep the offer interesting and there will be a strong focus on healthy options. “Our food to go offer will differ according to the size of our stores which vary from 600sq ft to 3000sq ft,” said Marwaha, “so we’re creating ranges for small, medium and large store concepts that can all be freshly prepared on site.”
Marwaha also wants to establish relationships with local bakers and butchers. “In many areas where we operate people have their favourite baker and butcher so we want to capitalise on this by bringing in some of these products,” he said. “This not only helps build loyalty and gives customers another reason to shop in your store, it also sends out a clear message that you are supporting other businesses at a time when consumers have an appetitive for localness and provenance.”
Another strategy proving successful for the business is its upweighted focus on staff training and accountability, with a robust in-house training programme allowing people to develop their skills and progress within the group. “We have 120 staff now so we’ve implemented a much more focused training structure which enables us to retrain staff quickly when we take over a new store,” Marwaha explained.
“Each member of staff has their own area of responsibility in the store – this also helps us identify individuals with potential to become managers. We’re keen to help people progress their career with us.”
Staff are also trained to upsell to increase customer spend and Marwaha is keen to work with suppliers in this area. “It’s something we’ve been promoting quite heavily in our stores for some time but now we want to move this up a level,” he said. “We’re interested in talking to suppliers who’d like to get involved and forge mutually beneficial relationships with us.”
Marwaha, meanwhile, is due to speak at the forthcoming him! event in May in London which will launch new CTP research into understanding shoppers and shopping trends, based on feedback from 20,000 convenience shoppers.