We ask four leading independent retailers who’ve embraced change and adapted their businesses to tell us what they’ve done and why, and what lessons they’ve learnt
Recipe for success
Ed Griffiths, operations manager, Purewell, Christchurch, Dorset
- 15,000 square foot destination superstore in Christchurch, Dorset
- Created a Cook at Purewell sub-brand
- Neff cookery theatre
- Cookware shop
- Kitchen furniture and showroom
Our Cook at Purewell sub-brand comes from the importance of localisation and personalisation. With our cookery theatre, we wanted to make sure we had a way to engage with the local community.
People that are interested in cooking will spend money and they will make a journey to a specific store if they feel they’re going to get something more for it.
Cook at Purewell is our way of interacting with those people and reaching them. The focus is on speaking to local bloggers, and it works – food fans are crazy. Just look at any TV channel – there’s a cookery show daily somewhere on mainstream TV.
We’re embracing it and tapping into what people want. It’s a slightly different zone for us – Purewell is in Christchurch, which has the highest average age [population] in the UK.
Cooking seems to be more of a young person’s game – up to a point – so Cook at Purewell is a softer brand. It’s lighter and it’s fun. What we’re trying to do is to get millennials into our showroom. We’re using social media and a bit of light-heartedness to draw them in.
That’s what Cook at Purewell is there for.
Markus Wood, managing director of Avensys, Crawley, West Sussex
- Opened one of the UK’s largest smart-home apartment retail spaces upstairs in its out-of-town Crawley superstore. The store is 40,000 square feet, with the smart home-apartment occupying 4,000 sq ft
- Smart-home apartment includes a lounge, diner, designer kitchen, a bathroom, a bar, a snug, a study and a seven-seater Dolby Atmos home cinema
- Heating, blinds, white goods, AV and security
- Training centre and demo rooms
I got bored of talking to customers and saying, ‘imagine this speaker is in your front room,’ or ‘ this is your front room or bedroom…’
We really wanted to be able to display the smart home and show it to the customer, so they could play with it – they can use a tablet to control it and it’s based on a Control4 system. People can walk in and have a look around.
We have a Panasonic TV that comes down out of the ceiling, which removes the commodity element of the sale. The customer doesn’t ask, ‘how much is that TV?’ Instead, they ask, ‘how much is it to have that solution in my house?’
We also have a full Samsung smart kitchen with a Family Hub refrigerator. We work with a Samsung home economist and in December we did a cooking demo and sold one £4,500 Family Hub and three top-of-the-range cookers.
We also sell furniture – everything from chairs to rugs and flooring. You can make a lot more margin by selling a sofa than you can a TV.
‘I’d always wanted to sell kitchens – you can’t buy them on the internet’
Matt Renaut, managing director, Dacombes of Wimborne, Dorset
- Recently opened a new 4,500 square foot store in Wimborne – took over a former furniture outlet and converted it into a destination electrical store
- Ground floor is laid out to look like key areas of a home – fitted kitchens, TV and AV lounge and a selection of white goods
- Offering a bespoke fitted kitchen service – teamed up with local business MK Interiors
I’d go into Currys and see rows and rows of products with no relevance to customers. The whole idea of our new store was to put the products into the sort of environment in which they’d be used.
We had two small stores in the centre of Wimborne and they were mainly ‘pop-in’ shops – customers would pop in and have a look, but the amount of time they were in-store wasn’t huge. They worked quite well, but we didn’t have our own car parks. Our new store is a destination store – customers can park there and we want to keep them there, looking around the store and having a coffee in a relaxed atmosphere.
I’d always wanted to sell kitchens – you can’t buy them on the internet and customers want to buy them from a trusted brand like ourselves. There can potentially be a lot of problems if you don’t know what you’re doing, so we’re working with a local company called MK Interiors.
We’ve got space in our new store and we’re renting them the area and we have our appliances in there. It’s a selling point for us.
‘The smart home is such a great opportunity for retailers’
Ashley-Shorey Mills, general manager, Hughes Smart Home
- Late last year, opened first smart-home apartment in the Hughes Ipswich store on Felixstowe Road
- Smart-home apartment at rear of store – laid out in lounge, bedroom and kitchen room sets and a garden area to demonstrate a broad range of smart products in a real-life setting
The smart home is a great opportunity.
There’s a massive middle ground between the traditional custom installation sector and the traditional consumer electronics retailer – customers that want something more, but who don’t want it to be like a footballer’s house and cost a lot of money. We identified that there was going to be growth in this market. Margins were getting tight on CE, so we saw an opportunity to grow the sale and we decided that smart home was the way, by adding extra products and service – service is key, because that’s where the extra profit comes in.
We’ve now developed that and we needed to show what we could do – every little aspect of the smart home is now in one place.
We had some wasted space at the back of our Felixstowe Road store, so because we’d been growing our smart-home business, we really needed somewhere to showcase the products, so we made a smart-home apartment.
We’ve separated the space into a garden area, kitchen, bedroom and living room. The idea is that it’s small room sets that look like those in a normal house. When the customer starts engaging with it by pushing buttons on a tablet and using the controls on the wall, things start to happen. It’s about engaging with customers, but we’ve noticed that the smart home isn’t just for younger customers or new ones – it’s great for your existing customers, too.
- To listen to the full discussion, click here.