Spirits take centre stage

Wilmcote, a picturesque village just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, is renowned as the home of Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s sweetheart. It is also the home of David and Anna Thomas, who run Wilmcote Stores – the hub of the local community and the epitome of a traditional English village shop.

This was the idyllic setting for the Take Home Blueprint team when asked by David and Anna to carry out a Blueprint revamp and fit PLOD security caps to the store’s spirits range.

Operations manager Paul Adshead, who lead the Blueprint makeover at Wilmcote Stores, explained: “This is a great independent store which is at the centre of the community with great staff and customers – even their pet parrot has a cheery greeting for everyone. The Thomases were looking for a boost to their off licence, which is a core area of their store and were very keen to take the principles of Blueprint on board.”

Under Paul’s guidance, the store was remerchandised to the Blueprint guidelines, and the spirit’s range was relocated from behind the counter onto a fixture in the main store for customers to browse at leisure and self-select their purchase, protected with the Blueprint PLOD security cap system.

Owner David Thomas was not surprised to discover that the changes had transformed the store’s alcohol sales within a matter of weeks. He said: “There was an immediate uplift in sales right from the word go. In fact, as soon as Paul left, customers were drawn to the section like magnets. They love it because they can now pick up all those bottles that have been behind the counter for years. Instead of just looking at them, now they can read and feel them and it’s had an effect. Brands like Gordon’s and Smirnoff have picked up massively in sales and we’ve started to move lines that have previously never sold, such as Teachers. I had six bottles of the latter behind the counter since Christmas and I wasn’t able to sell one of them. Now they’re on self-select, I’ve shifted five of them in the space of a month.

“Liquors are also selling incredibly well; Malibu, Archers, Tia Maria and Bacardi used to be mainly seasonal sellers and I’d be lucky to sell a handful throughout the rest of the year. Now I’m selling around two a week! I can see for myself just how much my spirits sales have increased when I walk in and see the caps that have been removed from bottles that have been sold. That’s backed up by hard sales figures, which show that there’s been a 30% increase in sales, proving that the system really works.

“Another pleasant surprise for us is the increase in popularity of our mixers. Paul suggested that putting a selection with the spirits would boost sales and he was right, as takings from this category have more than doubled.

“Although our other alcohol sections are small, we’ve still seen a rise in sales. Paul recommended that we increase the amount of wines by country, which we did, restocking on South African and Chilean, lines that previously never sold. Now they all sell very well and the fixture looks attractive too. Beers are on the up, thanks to another recommendation to stock multi-packs like Foster’s, Stella and Carlsberg. Now they’re flying out.

“To sum it up, we are really happy with the results, as it’s given our alcohol sales a new lease of life and it’s reignited our interest in this section.”

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