Campaign stopped a slide in takings

Independent retailer Lesley Brown gave the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign top-of-the-bill profile when she told the UK’s leading suppliers and wholesalers: “It’s crucial. It works.”

Lesley was acclaimed by top trade chiefs at the annual conference of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors when she said the campaign had halted the decline in takings at the shop in Barnstaple, north Devon, she runs with husband Bill.

Booker boss Charles Wilson, after listening to her story, warmly congratulated Lesley – then dramatically told her he would don overalls and work in her shop in National Independents’ Week (June 4-10).

Lesley told the conference: “There is always a question about PR campaigns, do they work money wise, do they help your trade and do they add value to the business? My answer to those questions is definitely yes.

“On the old NID we doubled our takings and I can now say that the MSYS campaign has halted the slowdown in trade that we had experienced in recent years. That’s why I’m here today to encourage other independents and suppliers and wholesalers to get with and get involved in this campaign. It makes good business sense.

“We read in the trade press about the first NID campaign in 2004. Unfortunately, our wholesalers didn’t seem to know much about it and lacked interest, I know that now three years on all has changed and they are very keen to be involved.

“We realised the campaign was a great platform for us, our team and our customers. For us it does three things. It lets our customers know that we are totally independent. It tells them we are part of their community and it is a great way of getting a lot of free publicity in the local media and have some fun while we’re doing it,” said Lesley.

“During the last three years we have started the day by counting how many times the campaign gets a mention on national TV, we have held cola challenges, football competitions, had a walkabout by the Chewits dinosaur, and raised money for local charities.

“We have held a competition for customers to guess how far certain food products have travelled, started the shopping basket challenge where customers guess the price of the shopping. When totted up it is cheaper than Tesco’s, much to the surprise of the customers who guessed too high.

“We have several articles published in our local press and it has raised our profile enormously and given our customers the opportunity to be more actively involved in the community rather than just be customers,” said Lesley.

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=== Lesley: All this and increased sales ===

Lesley Brown received the loudest and longest applause at the FWD conference after telling delegates: “MSYS has worked for us because as a team we are all committed to putting in the extra effort required to raise our profile.

“We are making people aware that Frankmarsh Stores exists and the part it plays in the community. “As a result of the increased profile, I am now asked for my views on all sorts of subjects by the local media and have recently been asked to join the local school as a community governor.

“All this as well as increased sales,” declared Lesley.

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