Retailers thirst for MSYS and NID

It’s been a busy month at Vanessa Braithwaite’s store near Rugby. If you have ever been involved in a big six-figure store refit you’ll know just how busy. And to cap it all and celebrate the opening of the refurbished store, Vanessa will be using MSYS point of sale, T-shirts, balloons and window stickers to impress her local community.

“We have invested in a refurbishment to secure our future. Our re-opening coincides with NID and that’s how we will celebrate,” says Vanessa. She is typical of the thousands of sole traders and family businesses who have emailed or telephoned the MSYS helpline asking for the special MSYS package for NID.

As ProWholesaler went to press, IMA Group, the Manchester agency implementing the campaign for the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, was in the process of confirming the database of requests to organise distribution. With the support of the independent retail trade press again stimulating enthusiasm for the campaign to a greater extent than ever before, it is clear that after three years of putting down the ground work, MSYS is bedding down to become part of the fabric of the sector.

MANCHESTER SUPPORT

Another example comes from the Levenshulme, Manchester, store of Michelle Waters and Adrian Smirthwaite. Adrian says: “We will be backing NID this year. We saw the benefits last year with all the extra customers who came into the shop. We will be running special NID offers for our customers and getting into the Daily Mirror money-off coupon promotion which went down so very well last year.”

The Daily Mirror/Daily Record feature will be published on May 26 just ahead of NID. It will feature editorial supporting independent retailers who are involved in their local communities together with money-off coupons on ten big brands, redeemable in local stores.

In 2005, when the money-off coupon promotion for NID was launched, there were seven brands participating. This year’s increase to ten brands demonstrates increased supplier recognition of, and support for, the MSYS campaign and NID.

FIRST COME,FIRST SERVED

An early bird who put in a request for the special NID POS package, Londis retailer Lisa Bennett, of Taunton, will be getting her package on the first come first served basis which is being employed this year.

Graeme Knowles runs a multi-award winning neighbourhood store in Aberdeen under the Nisa Local fascia. It is a business which has served the local community for 40 years. Graeme sponsors two local children’s football clubs – Middlefield Wasps and Sheddocksley Boys. A store that has seen thousands of pounds in investment, it is a true demonstration of My Shop Is Your Shop, local and proud of it.

Every year, Atul Amin, who runs a Nisa Extra in West Bromwich, sponsors a local school team kit – alternating each year from school to school to be fair to everyone.

Atul owns four stores and is passionate about providing a service to the local community. He is another true MSYS supporter.

TRUE TO THE ETHOS

Londis independent Kim Cameron, of Fort William, is another true example of the MSYS ethos, fully involved in the local community. Kim recently formed a local regeneration company – a group to raise funds to improve the local environment and help the community.

This group has succeeded in raising pound;35,000 to help clean up the local beach as an on-going project. Terry Caton, a Londis owner in Chesterfield, sponsors his local radio station Peak FM with its cheeky nude calendar to raise money for local cancer charities.

Recently he spoke out against the sale of fireworks to young people and is campaigning with other retailers to limit sales to over 21s only.

True to the principles of MSYS, Terry also sponsored a production at the local theatre in aid of charity – every seat in the place was sold when other Londis retailers decided to come in on the idea.

CAMPAIGN BOOSTS IMAGES

Leaders of the MSYS campaign are convinced that without it we would not have this weight of constructive and positive profiling of the community value of the sole trader and family businesses supplied by wholesalers.

The campaign has won national, regional and local TV, radio and press support to help get the message through to the consumer.

But, crucially, it has redefined the place of the independent in the community by persuading the retailer to make the most of his neighbourhood links and to improve them where possible.

“My Shop Is Your Shop, local and proud of it” is a claim which cannot be made by the corporately disciplined manager of a multiple c-store on a career path imposed by a distant head office (which will take him to new challenges on promotion).

This is not an anti-multiple theme. It’s a basic fact of life which the campaign has brought to the fore for the first time in the history of the sector – both in consumer terms and trade profiling.

The drivers of MSYS are now shaping the 2007 activity.

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=== The spirit of National Independents’ Day ===

When the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign was originated, it was conceived as a message to the consumer, reminding the most important person in the marketplace of the irreplaceable value to the community of the independent sole trader and family business.

These retailers form the core customer base of every cash and carry and delivered wholesaler with whom they have a unique interface.

But as the iniative has evolved, it has become clear that there is another person who is just as important – the independent retailer themselves.

So now the campaign has twin objectives – targeting the consumer and the retailer. The independent retailer is now, in parallel, being reminded that the more they are involved with their community the better it will be for his business.

The independent metaphorically, or actually, living over the shop can “do community” far more efficiently than the multiple c-store manager who will not live in the community, who does not drink at the local or send their kids to the same school as their customers.

MSYS and National Independents’ Day, coming up again on June 1st,are both a message for the shopper and the retailer, inspiring the latter to maximise their community marketing programme.

The true spirit of NID is captured by Steve and Sue Morris, Londis retailers in Pontesbury, Shropshire, pictured above. The Morris store has lots of local produce. Steve is a beekeeper. so there are pots of own label home produced honey on the shelves. Eggs are supplied by a local farmer, pork pies are home made.

Steve has launched a voucher scheme raising money for local activities. Face painting competitions are a popular part of village life and the Morris’s organise them for the fun element they bring to the community.

This programme of links with the community – the shop’s customer base – is typical of the activity identified by the MSYS campaign and promoted to the trade to inspire other retailers.

If every independent became as involved in the community to the same extent as Steve and Sue, say MSYS, the extra sales emanating from the activity would be substantial.

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