Establishing point of difference key to success for award-winning retailer

Following a “fantastic year” for the business, award-winning retailer Eros Retail launched not one, but two new stores last month, extending their portfolio to include contemporary new stores in Glenrothes and Dundee under the company’s own unique Greens branding. 

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First to launch was the new ‘Little Greens’ store in Coaltown of Balgonie, a small village in Fife just a couple of miles from the group’s flagship store in Markinch. While the store has competition from a local Co-op, M&S Food and the businesses’ own Greens of Markinch store, the 1,300 sq. ft. Little Greens has already established its own place in the market with a reputation for quality food to go products; selling hundreds of hot rolls alone per week.

Director Harris Aslam, who runs the company alongside cousin Raza Rehman, said of the smaller store format: “Previously we had a similar range across all our stores regardless of location, but it has become increasingly clear that the different areas have differing demands. Little Greens is all about quality stores with a concise range and an extensive food-to-go focus to take advantage of passing trade.”

 In Dundee, residents and local students are now able to pick up their groceries, food on the go and more from the vast Greens of Dundee Nisa Extra. With 5,500 sq. ft. to play with, a city centre location and a large student population in the area, Harris says there was “tremendous potential in the location” and the opportunity to do something a bit different with the store. While the store offers a huge range of everyday essentials, it also features a range of food to go solutions, innovative ideas and a Skwishee slush machine – the only one in the area – which has been a huge hit with students. Additionally, the business plans to launch its own bespoke coffee solution - Greens Beans - in-store offering customisable, fresh filter coffee in a wide range of flavours, and even offering free refills to encourage repeat custom and to “get the brand out there”. 

 The store aims to stock products you wouldn’t find in the discounters or your average convenience store, which have received an “unbelievable response” with many of these products selling out. As with all the company’s stores, there is also a strong focus on quality fresh produce and partnerships with local suppliers, which seems to have paid off as fresh and chilled products and craft beers have already emerged as firm customer favourites. According to Harris, though, the company’s success is down to getting the basics right and having built a reputation for quality and exceeding customer expectations. 

 Another thing the group’s stores have become renowned for is their healthy eating initiatives in partnership with the SGF’s Healthy Living programme, and the company plans to extend this to the two new stores to give something back to their respective communities.

 “The healthy living days we do with local schoolchildren and our in-store initiatives give us a big sense of pride, as we feel we are genuinely making a difference in the area. As such, we’re looking to build on our relationship with the SGF further across all our stores”, says Harris. 

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But as you’d expect, this is not the company’s only plan for the future: “We have a really positive outlook for 2018 despite all the changes in the industry – we’re turning it into an opportunity and looking at how to get our brand across by differentiating ourselves from the competition.

 “For example, we’ll focus on stocking more niche and unique lines that will offer customers something different, and we’ll continue to work with other retailers to share new ideas.” 

Harris says he considers Eros Retail to be a ‘disruptor’ – not by trying to completely overhaul the industry, but in that they like to constantly try new ideas and do things a bit differently. 

 He adds: “The ideas don’t always work; sometimes they’re just not right for that particular demographic but retailing should be a constant learning and development process otherwise you fall behind the competition.” 

 Despite numerous industry awards under its belt and having launched three new stores this year alone, Harris says the business has no plans to slow down. 

“It’s been a fantastic year for the business and we’ve seen great like for like sales for 2017. It’s an exciting time as for us as we plan to open several more stores within the next 12 months whilst continuing to develop the existing stores, and we’re looking to introduce the Greens branding into all of them.

 “We’re also trying to improve our brand on social media by developing a more personal and local feel – it’s not all about price and promotions but about engaging with the community in a relatable way.”

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