Welcome 2010!

For once I managed to get some time off over the festive season which was fantastic even if in Cape Town you get to feel like a stranger in your own home town! I got time to visit various retail outlets and of course to visit our many convenience stores. In fact I spent hours in our stores and in some cases was absolutely delighted, and in some cases was very saddened– isn’t it always a mixed bag out there!

2010 in my view is the year of supermarket chains making serous inroads into our industry! They have come in as traditional retailers and are going to give the rest of the market a good run for their money. This is not about a small corner of our shops being allocated to one brand such as the Woolworth’s concepts at Engen. Or giving a fast food brand another corner of our store! This is about a significant change in the way we market to our customers. And I love it!

Yes, I still dislike the store layouts immensely – they are really poor and over time I am hoping that these will be addressed. What I do love are the promotions – real ones, ones that our customers can relate to at last! And the range! Now that is what I call a convenience store – it has a bit of everything that most homes might need. Yes they do not have a huge range in each category for me to choose from, but we as customers expect that – otherwise we would pop into our supermarket instead! But I can find just about anything….no missing eggs, ice cream or cream. (Do you recall my visit to three convenience stores last year in one week? All three of these products were missing – in summer!)

And the fresh food range is large! Gone are these big displays of 10 different types of pies – and only pies! Thank goodness! In my view this is what has hampered the growth of even Woolworths at service stations. You still get the mediocre fresh food offerings being dished up – even though I can get my choice of meat for a braai and salads to go with it. Now these outlets will be trading on their brand name only without the range you can get other service stations.

 This is going to be exciting for us all to watch and makes 2010 not just another year – but a dynamic one, and at long last a breath of fresh air! That helps to clean the old cobwebs out and get serious about our own businesses. The costs are going to be enormous and not just in capital and monetary terms – but in people, and logistics. Let’s hope that our customers respond by opening their wallets generously!

I have purposely not mentioned the bad experiences I had – this is a new year after all – so let’s concentrate on the new and the bold! Let’s herald it as a new beginning for all of us!

 Take care out there

Jocelyn Daly

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