The Co-op steps up ambition for key Christmas/New Year week

The Co-op is stepping up its ambition for the key week between Christmas and New Year, with a more targeted range that better suits consumers as well as better logistics to support its estate, its BWS boss Simon Cairns tells db.

Speaking to the drinks business recently, BWS boss Simon Cairns said the convenience store had “bigger ambitions” for Christmas this year than it had previously had, with the roll out of a ‘winter-specific’ range and better logistics.

“It’s about a relevant level of features and promotions for a range of wines. What we don’t want to do is target one specific consumers, but offer a breadth of range,” he said.

Cairns argued that The Co-op’s dynamic at Christmas differs from that of other retailers. In the convenience channel, there is less call for WIGIG (‘when it’s gone its gone’) parcels of wines or 25% off a half- case promo, he noted, which provided an opportunity to stand out.

“A buy six, save 25% is not relevant to a convenience store, so we’ve got to find our own way,” Cairns explained. “We’re hoping to experiment this year and trying to be as relevant as we can for the consumers we have in store.”

As Cairns explains, Christmas is only two weeks of trading, and the more interesting time for sales was the week between Christmas and New Year, so it was more about building a ‘winter-specific” range, rather than targeting the big Christmas stock-up shop.

“That’s the week we target as we see it an as opportunity for our stores – the switch between the pre-planned and impulse convenience shop is really stark,” he notes. “So we try to build a winter-specific range.”

Because the relevant range for that key week is not huge and “relatively predictable” he said there was a greater opportunity to be reactive and experimental.

“Traditionally, we’ve not been great trading for a week-long period as it is quite tough for us due to the sheer size of our estate, which makes it a logistic challenge to push a lot of stock in, especially as 1st January alcohol sales don’t tend to be very buoyant.”

However by being more selective about the products being brought in at that key time, there was an opportunity to be “more ambitious with how much stock we bring into store.”

According to Cairns, last summer’s heatwave proved the importance of getting this right, after seeing soaring sales following the decision to load stock in its depot very quickly so could respond to the spikes driven by weather.

“Operational things may not be sexy but availability in convenience is key,” Cairns previously told db. “You can have the best planogram, range and strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the stock, it quickly comes to naught. [In convenience] you don’t have the size of range to cover a gap, we have to have it there or very quickly, if not the implications can be catastrophic in terms of availability.”

‘Star buys’ highlighted by the retailer include its exclusive Les Pionniers NV Champagne Brut “crowd pleaser”, a Domaine des Valanges Saint Veran 2018 White Burgundy offering good value for money, (RRP: , A Chateau Tour du Pas, St-Georges-St-Emilion 2015, from Vignobles Delbeck (RRP: £15), a new vintage Cop de Ma Priorat 2017 (RRP: £13) from Cellers Unio, and Wynns The Sidings Cabernet from Coonawara (RRP:12).

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