Crossing boundaries

As some of you are aware, KAM work across grocery retail as well as hospitality. This week I had the pleasure of seeing for myself, at the ACS conference, the way that grocery retailers are embracing how consumers want to shop- ie; blurring the lines between on and off trade.

One particular store that stood out was Dan Whitstone’s Village stores. Whitstone’s have, quite simply, got their offer just right- a great grocery store that incorporates a bar area which is used by locals who tell us that they are ‘grateful to have their local community pub back’. 

I have long been a champion of crossing boundaries when it comes to on/off trade- a consumer will purchase what they want at the time they want it- regardless of the way we try to funnel them into grocery or hospitality outlets. It’s rare that I get embroiled in a Twitter spat, but the only time I have, I recall it being about this very matter- I think I dared to suggest that where a rural village/town didn’t have a convenience store, that the local pub should carry the essentials, and visa versa- an opinion I still stand by.

Whitstone’s Village Store’s bar area is shown in the picture below (yes, the solo empty glass annoys me too)- running off a cellar-less system and having slightly reduced opening hours than a traditional pub, it’s easy to run and has proved incredibly popular.

On top of having the bar offering, Whitstone village stores have also started providing something else that pubs have traditionally been famous for- the good old British Sunday Roast- which they offer to eat in OR takeaway. This particular idea has been so popular that, in Dan’s words at Wednesday’s conference; “I wish it was Sunday every day”.

To be clear, this blog post is not suggesting that stores are the new pubs; it’s me saying (and risking, yet again, the wrath of the purists) that if we listen to our customers, we’ll understand what they want- and I think that you’ll find that there are very few who wouldn’t be happy to pick up a pint of milk and loaf of bread at their local pub and the same for the number of customers who’d like G&T at the end of their weekly shop.

Tonight I’ll be waiting eagerly for the eldest stepson to return from university with bags full of washing, a terrible attitude and a healthy disregard for everyone around him, well I’m guessing that’s what I’m in for, after all, that’s exactly what happened at Christmas.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending Peckham’s inaugural ‘Hot Sauce’ festival to get my fill of all that is spicy, followed by a trip to the Jewish museum in North London on Sunday- any recommendations for a pub to drop into afterwards near Mornington Crescent/Camden Road, please send them across!

Have a good one!

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