Blue Ananta on behalf of The Retail Leaders Forum hosted a dinner on 24 January for NACS President and CEO Dr Henry Armour at The Andaz Hotel in London. Attending the dinner was leadership from the Association of Convenience Stores, Booker Retail Partners, Compass Group UK, Conviviality Retail, Sainsbury’s, Simply Fresh, Spar UK, Tesco, RI, Ubamarket, DMI and ARYZTA.
NACS represents 155,000 Convenience stores with sales of $550B made up of $233B in-store and $313B of fuel sales. http://www.convenience.org/Media/Press_Releases/2017/Pages/PR010217.aspx#.WnHETSOcbq0
Henry addressed three big issues within our sectors:
1. The future of fuel stations
Fuel sites will be with us for ‘twenty five and more’ years as US vehicle manufacturers comply with federal fuel efficiency standards championed by President Obama in 2012 at 54.5-miles-per-gallon by 2025. Although American consumers are buying more pickup trucks, vans and SUVs, the trend is towards doubling the miles/gallon versus the year 2000 average. Electric vehicles are growing at 25% YOY from a base of 1.2% of total new vehicles sold.
Millennials or Generation Y is an important target group for Convenience, Food and Drug (Health & Wellbeing) retailers. They are the most ethnically diverse generation, tend to be tolerant of difference and are often less tied to owning possessions such as cars and property. Any broad-brush definition is, however, a generalisation. Millennial behaviour and needs are hugely varied; easiest seen from a daily diet of quick food through to healthy scratch cooking and organic food shopping. Sachi Alexander-Annan from Blue Ananta told us that there are two Planet Organic stores adjacent to University College London and that there are queues every morning and lunch time for their fresh Food to Go, snacks and beverages. It’s Fast Food but not as sold by most Convenience stores!
3. Marketing spend
Continuing from the millennial discussion, Henry told us that the most successful C-retailers such as Maverik https://www.maverik.com, Sheetz https://www.sheetz.com & Wawa https://www.wawa.com spend their marketing dollars against clear Customer Value Propositions. They are not targeting ‘Henry Armour’ or ‘Scott Annan’ (a Grey) but are attractive due to their relevant food and drink offer, customer facing technology – touch screen ordering was pioneered by US C-retailers –, great customer service and high retail standards. Relevance and convenience are their key attributes.
Learning for the UK?
There was little dissent when Henry stated that London once led the way in innovative retail Food Service, however, new concepts appear to be variations on Pret a Manger. He pointed to Dublin retail as continuing to innovate beyond the sandwich and packaged salad.
Sachi sent Henry details for Ahi Poké https://www.ahipoke.co.uk, Island Poké https://islandpoke.co.uk, Mae Deli https://deliciouslyella.com/2016/01/04/welcome-to-the-mae-deli, Ethos http://www.ethosfoods.com and Titbits https://www.tibits.ch/en/home.html which are ‘one tier’ up from Pret a Manger and Leon and cater for the health conscious millennial market.