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Helping retail business prosper Written by retailers for retailers

Tree Time is Free Time with these amazing offers…

Those headline deals are too good to miss, but  For a start, Tree Time is free there are many other reasons to enjoy the day  As you’d expect from the UK’s leading health food wholesaler, to the full while doing business with the 120+ SECRET suppliers who’ll be there. Such as: the breakfast (until 11.30am) and lunch (until 2pm) is free  Up to 1,500 supplier deals SHOPPER  Travel there free – every store with an account will receive  Up to £100 RSP Goody Bag (one per store) Snooping for the best  Registered childcare facilities a £50 fuel card on arrival, so why not share a car with your and the worst  All day fun events for the kids staff and get there free?  Weleda pamper zone SALES & Dinner is free for the first 50 retailers to confirm  Lots of prizes to be won  The Gala HOW TO FINDzone US..  Exclusives MARKETING their attendance, and  And the chance to mix with other retailers The driving force and your Tree of Life team.  Accommodation is free as well to those first 50 retailers!

behind success

Directions from M6 North


How to build your WHERE Tree of Life head office, Coaldale Road, Lymedale Business Park, Newcastleonline store under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 9QX

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Exit M6 at junction 16 Take A500 towards Stoke-on-Trent A500 Take 2nd exit sign posted A34 Newcastle Straight over at two roundabouts Then at 2nd set of traffic lights turn right into Brymbo Rd A34 Straight over the roundabout Take 1st left at TK Maxx into Coaldale Road Tree of Life is at the end on the left hand side





INCREASE Directions from M6 South GALA DINNER The Tree Time annual Gala Dinner on the eve of the show takes place at GROSS MARGIN NEWCASTLECrewe Hall, a spectacular stately home in the Cheshire countryside. The first 50 retailers WHEN Sunday, September 23, 10am - 4pm

Control the enemies of profit

to confirm their Tree Time attendance will not only be wined and dined in magnificent splendour, they will also receive free B+B accommodation for the Saturday night.


How to get there

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Exit M6 at junction 15 Take A500 towards Stoke on Trent UNDER-LYME Take 2nd exit sign posted A34 Newcastle Through 5 roundabouts towards M6 North At first set of traffic lights turn left into Brymbo Road Straight over the roundabout Take 1st left at TK Maxx into Coaldale Road Tree of Life is at the end on the left hand side



M6 A500 A34


Finding new revenue streams

5. 6. 7. 8.

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A Day In The Life of a sales rep From the Top: Graeme Hume
























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Get on top of ordering, margin, and unrealistic overheads

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.


Direc Di rectio tions ns from rom M6 No Nort rth rt COVER STORY ENHANCE EFFICIENCY






Coaldale Roa Newcastle-under

 issue 4 | autumn 2012 Andy Derbyshire 01782 567162


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What makes a winning retailer? It’s easy to list the qualities of health food retailers who are successful even when the odds aren’t in their favour. Business nous, strong marketing skills, self-belief, thoughtful people management, an eye for a good deal. But what order do you put them in? It wasn’t until I’d put this issue’s last full stop in place that I sat back and gave some thought to what might be the underlying theme. This is a business magazine and as such tries hard not to be too dry and dusty, full of statistics and dreadful clichés. I thought of Gary Trickett’s honest approach to margin, profit per suare foot of shelf space, and when to close a store. Hang on, he’s closed one and now he wants to open another. What’s going on? Then there’s Alan Martin, relative new kid on the block with a heck of a lot to say. Can’t shut him up. He’d write the whole magazine if I let him. And if owning two stores isn’t enough, he’s one of four retailers featured in this issue who have gone out and found products to make or import for the UK market. With folk like these kindly and spontaneously contributing ideas for Better Retailing Magazine, always looking for a platform whether it be to address their local community or their peers, it becomes easier to put that list above in its correct order. Or at least name a Number One. That would be self-belief. All of our contributors have this in spades, and don’t they know it. And without it, your marketing will be a damp squib, your business nous will just bore everyone, and your staff will lack motivation. So welcome to your dose of self-belief…

Alistair Forrest

Alistair Forrest, Editor

Retailers: Do you have something to say that will inspire fellow independents? Email me,

Inside this issue 4 Introductions 5 Talking Shop 6 News for retailers 8 Secret Shopper 10 A day in the Life 12 It’s Tree Time Sales & Marketing


14 Alan Martin does food demos in store, on YouTube and at his local Food Festival – he’s a bundle of irrepressible energy Online & Technology 16 Stuart Jackson explains the modular aspects of your website that will improve your customers’ shopping experience Increase Gross Margin


18 There are several factors that will erode your margin. Unless you control these, your gross profit will suffer Business Development 22 Stuart Jackson provides 11 ideas to make your business grow 24 Bolt-on Business – four retailers prove there’s nothing to stop them becoming suppliers Enhance Efficiency 26 How to make sure your employment contract for staff is fair to both parties 28 Gary Trickett on how to get on top of ordering, margin, and unrealistic overheads Resources 30 Graeme Hume of Lavera explains how your skincare section can be a beacon of light for consumers 32 What’s Hot in-store 34 Support from suppliers and useful contacts

Autumn issue September 2012. Editor Alistair Forrest | Managing Editor Tracy McLoughlin | Publisher Carlota Hudgell | Sales Manager Tracey Peat | Design & Production Paul Dickson | Administration & Accounts Cathy Norris | Managing Director Stuart Jackson Stuart. | To advertise in Better Retailing Magazine call 01223 894200 Better Retailing Magazine JHN Productions Ltd, Unit 2 Three Hills Farm, Ashdon Road, Bartlow, Cambs CB21 4EN, Tel: 01223 894200 Published by JHN Productions Ltd. Produced on environmentally friendly chlorine-free paper derived from sustained forests. The content of all advertisements in this publication is the responsibility of the advertiser and is received in good faith. JHN Productions Ltd cannot be held responsible for any erroneous advertising content. The opinions expressed in Better Retailing Magazine are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or publishers who cannot be held responsible for actions taken as a result of the content of this magazine.


Who’s who in this issue

The editorial team and sponsor behind Better Retailing Magazine Alistair Forrest, Editor Alistair took a few years away from the UK health food industry to live in Spain where he wrote historical fiction and developed a Mediterranean garden with his wife, Lynda. He returned to the UK last year after taking up the editorial reins of Better Retailing Magazine. Stuart Jackson Managing Director of Force of Nature, a specialist consultancy which has provided advice to many health food retailers in our industry, and Chairman of Real Foods, Scotland’s largest health food retailer, Stuart has always dreamed of empowering retailers to bigger and better things. As MD of JHN Productions, our publisher, he is achieving that vision. Tracy McLoughlin Tracy McLoughlin is Managing Editor at JHN Productions which is also publisher of Your Healthy Living Magazine - the No.1 free in-store magazine. Tracy has some 20 years’ journalistic experience in the industry and shares her passion and experience in the production of Better Retailing Magazine.

Tessa Sanderson with Solgar’s sales and marketing manager, Lesley Constable

A Thank You to our Sponsor

We have Solgar to thank for parading three Golden Greats of Olympics past in Tessa Sanderson, Alan Wells and Ronnie Delany. And we have Solgar to thank for providing the backing for this magazine. As the industry’s only dedicated business development publication, Better Retailing Magazine doesn’t yet have the same star quality as this illustrious trio of gold medalists! But, like Solgar, we’re trying to promote “Performance” and that’s where the synergy lies. Solgar also has one of the most sought-after training courses, the Level 3 Btec Advanced Certificate in Nutrition, The Body and Supplementary Health. It’s called the Solgar Gold Course. Gold Performances need training and education. That applies throughout this industry and it’s this that Solgar has so generously recognised.

Issue Four Guests ALAN MARTIN With a background in retail management, Alan bought Food For Thought at Kingston and Guildford in 2008. He has bags of driving energy for local marketing and social networking with the result that our reporter couldn’t shut him up until he ate one of his own vegan confections. DENISE BARRETT It was lifestyle journalist Denise who drew the short straw and dashed off to write down what Alan Martin said. She’s former editor of two natural health magazines now working as a freelance writer. JULIE GOODWIN As importer of Kokoro Haramaki, the owner of Natural Health in Welwyn Garden City and Hertford is one of our contributors to our article on “Bolt-on Business” for retailers. 4 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

JAMES & MICHELLE SUTTON The owners of Butterflies Healthcare near Banbury talk us through their imported NATorigin skincare and cosmetics range as contributors to our “Bolt-on Business” article. LYNDA BINKS Lynda, also a contributor to the Business Development article “Bolt-on Business”, imports Dru Barley Grass alongside her main business at Dimensions Health Store in Bangor, North Wales. GARY TRICKETT An active committee member for the National Association of Health Stores, Gary has been in the health food industry for many years and now owns Healthy Route Ltd, operating health stores in Leicester and Nottingham. He writes about margin and other issues crucial to business efficiency.

TALKING SHOP SHOW TIME Retailers lucky enough to have made the hop over to Dublin for Rude Health in mid-September will have returned with a smile on their faces. We like this paragraph in the Irish Association of Health Stores’ publicity: “Rude Health advocates complete health, harmony, happiness – and a dash of self-indulgence. Offering solutions to hectic lifestyles, the show has a sense of humour and optimism not often seen but always welcomed during the busy back-to-school season.” So it’s no surprise that the IAHS has launched its brand new consumer magazine, Rude Health, with a team to reflect these principles. Produced by JHN Productions, publisher of Better Retailing Magazine and Your Healthy Living, Managing Editor is our own Tracy McLoughlin and Editor is Liz Parry. Sales Manager is Sharon Butler who can be reached on 01206 632124, email INORGANIC NEWS Avril McCracken, National Association of Health Stores Administrator, was indignant about negative news reporting of the US study on organic food (see our report on next page). “Biased and irresponsible,” she said, adding: “We weren’t surprised that this study was picked up and sensationalised by the media at the beginning of the Soil Association’s Organic September, as this seems to be an ongoing trend.  One must question the motives behind the headlines as they only serve to confuse the public and damage retailers.” As Avril then pointed out, the reports ignored the fact that organic is the only way to avoid pesticides in food. Now who wouldn’t want that headlined?

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GET EDUCATED Reminder: the Health Food Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that provides our industry’s only independent qualification in health food retailing. The HFI Professional Diploma is an easy to use, distance learning, modular course providing training in all the areas of knowledge required to effectively contribute to the operation of the modern health store. All independent health food shop staff should sign up for the new term, which starts when you want it to! And remember, all HFI training courses are free to all staff if your store is a member of the National Association of Health Stores.

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LETTERS: Better Retailing Magazine welcomes questions, opinions and comment - email the editor, BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 5

AROUND THE HEALTH STORES Want to be cashmobbed? In August, an independent bookstore in Hackney became the first venue to host a ‘cash mob’ event in London when up to fifteen people at any one time crammed into the shop over lunch and were encouraged to spend at least £10 in order to offer a boost to the shop takings for the day. Better Retailing Magazine likes the idea and, in conjunction with Viridian’s Cheryl Thallon is asking independent health food retailers what they think, and whether they would like to consider a ‘cash mob’ for their store. Dramatic high-impact gatherings like this are set to be a new social phenomenon fuelled by networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. What is a ‘cash mob’ and how does the concept work? You’ll have heard of a ‘flash mob’ where people use social media to organise a time and place to meet up and perform random pointless acts before quickly dispersing. A cash mob has more of a purpose. It uses the same method of co-ordinating random people, but with the defined intention of visiting an independent retailer and spending some money there, with perhaps a friendly drink afterwards. Cash mobs bring people together socially, but also for the serious task of helping the local economy. The mobbers get to learn more about their neighbours and meet some new people, while local businesses get a cash injection and the chance to show a mixed audience what they can offer as a business and as pillars of the community. The founder of the UK movement, Ken Banks, says it's about driving people back to locally-owned and run businesses. “Independent health stores are some of the few remaining independent businesses in town centres,” said Cheryl Thallon. “Many people are passionate about keeping their local communities intact and vibrant. A cash mob could be just the thing to generate not only a great sales day, but also excite that passion for your shopping community. My advice would be to give it a go now, before the local book store, gift shop or record store does it.” Health Food Retailers interested in the idea should contact Cheryl on 01327 878050 or email Better Retailing Magazine editor alistair.forrest@, preferably both. 6 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

Ronnie’s first again! Ireland’s Ronnie Delany, who won gold in the 1956 Olympics in the 1500 metres, became the proud recipient of the first Loyalty Card issued by Dublin’s Health Matters. Ronnie was at the Grafton Street store as part of Solgar’s promotion of its new Performance range (see page 19). “It was a great honour and pleasure to have one of our great Olympians spending a number of hours in our store,” said MD Garrett McCabe, pictured presenting the card to Ronnie.

Echinacea – ‘might as well ban peanuts!’ True to form, the health food industry didn’t hesitate to defend its favourite Echinacea when the MHRA and Irish Medicines Board dropped their bombshell about the herb and children under 12. Jill Bell (pictured), President of the Irish Association of Health Stores, lobbed this straight back: “There is no up to date evidence to show that Echinacea is unsafe for use in under 12s. This ban by the IMB is completely unjustified and will cause worry to many parents who want to protect their children’s health. Ironically it is bound to result in more infections and increased use of antibiotics. There might be more sense in banning the sale of peanuts!” She added: “I've currently got a large poster in my window saying children’s Echinacea is banned but that parents can still give Paracetamol to kids aged 6 and over.”  Bioforce, the maker of A.Vogel Echinacea products, was swift to point out the entire (out of date and not convincing) basis for the MHRA decision and supplied retailers with a comprehensive list of actions to take. Retailers should ask their rep if they haven’t seen it. Meanwhile, a petition at had thousands of signees within days of going live.

Parking charges killing business

They used to say “Glasgow’s Smiles Better” but not any more. Not where parking charges are concerned. Dilip Kotecha says there’s been a 50% drop in sales at his Quality Vitamins & Herbs since Glasgow Council hiked city centre parking charges to a staggering £3 an hour. “The bad weather and the economy haven’t helped but the parking charge has hit our trade severely,” he said. “Whole Foods has opened with three hours free parking and other competitors are near the university where parking is just 40p an hour.” The store is trialling an offer to some customers to pay for their parking because some of them are in such a hurry to avoid charges and can’t stop, and some have decided to go elsewhere. The biggest bright spot for Dilip came this summer when a visit by local Olympic hero Allan Wells, courtesy of the Solgar Gold campaign, brought a 35% increase on business on the day he was there. Dilip is pictured with Alan Wells and his staff. See page 23 for other Solgar events to support its Performance Range.

neWS rOunD-up

hairy diet threatened by pies

Minister for homeopathy? New Health Minister Jeremy Hunt, formerly Culture Secretary, seems to have a sympathetic ear for homeopathy. While modern health professionals dismiss homeopathy as “no better than placebo” our new Minister endorses homeopathy, according to The Guardian. In 2007 Hunt signed a Commons Early Day Motion supporting it and also argued that it was worthwhile in correspondence with a constituent who questioned his stance.

TV’s Hairy Bikers are pictured at the Ludlow Food Festival where our editor discovered them checking out the many healthy options in the castle grounds. However their new diets came under threat when the duo spotted the region’s artisan breads and pies. Photo: Alistair Forrest

Organic nuts When the Daily Mail and others quoted so-called research from Stanford University, California, that questioned the health qualities of organic food, we knew an outcry would be futile but many of us gave it our best shot anyway. Perhaps the most poignant comment on the Daily Mail’s website was “I smell Monsanto and DuPont” but this from Bristol retailer Mike Abrahams on one of our industry’s Facebook pages gets top marks: “They still ignore the presence of salvestrols in organic and wild food,” said

Mike of Wild Oats fame. “Salvestrols tend not to be present to any great extent in intensively grown crops. It’s the salvestrols that protect us against spontaneous cancer cell production. This above all others is the single health protection quality of organic food that should be sung from the rooftops. And then we can talk about the chemicals in the sprays.” Marcus Dallow of Just Healthy, Stoke on Trent, added: “It’s a shame most readers will not know about the massive ‘Right To Know’ fight in California over GMO labelling. This is just another vested interest report.”

good hair day No need to tear your hair out when you’ve got customers with issues about how to tint their hair without poisoning themselves through their scalp. Nature’s Dream, suppliers of Naturtint hair colouring products without the nasties, have hired hairdresser Kerry Capewell, to answer consumer queries and support retailers who rely on the company’s renowned helpline. Kerry has 18 years’ of hair styling experience and not a blue rinse in sight. Meanwhile, Nature’s Dream is helping the Health Food Institute address the important issue of safely and effectively selling hair colorants in health stores.

go online for the ultimate business support for your store By now you’ll be aware that Better Retailing Magazine is the only business support magazine for Health Food Retailers And it’s now online. That means you can refer back to the riches of business articles written by retailers for retailers. The information in Better Retailing can save you a great deal of time and money researching, learning and choosing the correct strategic and project management paths while making real savings and additional profit from practical advice. It’s now available to store owners, managers and key staff at www. – but you must register before you can access this mine of detailed information.

We’ve broken retail business down into five main areas. For easy reference, the sections have been colour coded within the magazine, both within the list of contents and as a thumb mark on each corresponding page. At the back of the magazine is a Resources Guide including our What’s Hot product showcase, useful contacts and further support from our advertisers. Each issue offers stand alone tips and advice on a variety of topics but will also build, issue by issue, into a comprehensive guide on how to run your retail business. We suggest you keep all the issues of Better Retailing handy to refer back to when embarking on any of the projects or management tasks covered inside, or take advantage of our

online database of “how to” articles. The colour coded sections in Better Retailing magazine are: 1. SaleS & Marketing 2. Online & technOlOgy 3. increaSe grOSS Margin 4. BuSineSS DevelOpMent 5. enhance efficiency 6. reSOurceS Go to to start using this unique resource. BETTER RETailiNG MaGaZiNE 7



The story so far: Better Retailing Magazine’s Secret Shoppers have been sent out to the UK’s Health Food shops with a mission to find the UK’s best and worst. Here’s our latest analysis – a store with a very respectable score!

Store location South West Enquiry Migraine First impressions The shop is on a small, cobbled, pedestrian area in a historic market town, sitting comfortably among the other shops. The frontage is unflashy – these are listed buildings with big, airy windows showing the entire downstairs of the store and tasteful signage. They have two small tables outside with young herb plants for sale and handwritten notes about the herbs and their uses – lovely! Both windows had a Solgar display in them. Displayed in the glass door were opening hours and a couple of small fliers for local, relevant events, also some brand stickers. It all feels very ‘natural’ with bare wood, lots of daylight and fresh air. Also on the door is a sign saying that ringing the bell will bring someone out with a wheelchair ramp for those needing it. The store is well laid-out, long and narrow with a shelving island in the centre but wide aisles with plenty of room. I particularly liked the overhead dispensers for grains and muesli, a bit like big, chunky optics in a bar and very easy to use with clear labelling. My one criticism is that having been here before I know that the supplements and nonperishables are upstairs but there’s nothing to indicate this for the new visitor. A nice handwritten sign invites you to take a look upstairs but there’s nothing about what you might see when you get there. Upstairs is more tightly packed and less airy but still immaculate and attractive. Half the space is given over to therapy rooms and a waiting area well-stocked with reading materials and toys. In the front of the first floor

are household products in bottles and also available for topping up your own containers. On the walls are some lovely illustrated guides to herbs and their therapeutic uses. There are cosmetics, candles and other goodies before you get to the supplements which are displayed well and are all easily accessible. Verdict: 9/10 Store layout Space is limited but definitely well-used without over-crowding. Plenty of promotions and information – I particularly liked the illustrated guides to herbs on the walls. Downstairs is wonderfully roomy; upstairs is more confined but perfectly comfortable. I think they’ve struck a perfect balance between food, eco household, body care and supplements. It’s a very attractive store with no one lurking and ready to pounce so I was very comfortable walking in and taking time to look at everything. The counter is large with plenty of space around it and someone friendly on duty. All spotlessly clean but totally natural and non-clinical. Verdict: 8/10 Personal Attention The woman I spoke with immediately gave me ‘entry level’ advice (feverfew) and then went into greater depth with reference to 5HTP, magnesium and EFAs. She checked what prescription medication or other things I might be taking in case it clashed. I was definitely helped, not just sold to. She knew what she talking about and backed it up with

reference to a text book she had to hand, to show me what she was talking about. She didn’t push anything but was attentive and ready to help me decide. I bought 5HTP and a magnesium supplement with added B6. She made it clear that there were less expensive small bottles that I might like to try before investing in the costlier versions. She also told me how many tablets I’d need to take a day. Verdict: 10/10 Check Out Check out was a swift debit card payment with some nice chat about families, weather etc. She told me to come back to let her know how I was doing and see where I wanted to go from there. Verdict: 9/10 Overall impression The store was very quiet – it’s a quiet town – but well staffed with relaxed, mature staff. I felt very welcome, listened to and helped. Service was just the right measure of personal and professional. I will be going back and definitely will recommend it to friends and family. There’s a modern, natural feel to the shop but with a traditional ‘grocery store’ accent that is exactly right for the local community. Verdict: 9.5/10

Total marks


Here’s looking at you! Not all Secret Shopper reports will be published in Better Retailing Magazine, but they will appear on our website, We’re not naming the stores they visit… yet. But the best will be trumpeted after a dozen comparisons, and from all of these we will announce the overall winner.


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A day in the life of… Amy Garner

Better Retailing Magazine on the trail of your favourite reps

Name: Amy Garner Company: BetterYou Ltd Location: Sheffield Products: DLux, Magnesium Oil / Flakes, Boost, Femergy, Menergy and TotalNutrition Hobbies: Horse-riding, walking in the Pennines, reading books, camping Favourite TV: Sex and the City, Friends Favourite music: Killers Favourite food: Greek Marital status: Live with long term partner, James, and Waddle the Jack Russell. After getting up, ironing James’ shirt and walking Waddle (who is named after Chris Waddle, a Sheffield Wednesday legend!), I drink my Mean Green Morning Smoothie and pop my Femergy capsules to set me up for the day. I pack the car for a jam packed few days ahead. Today’s stop – Bournemouth! I have appointments at a few of our new retailers who I haven’t been to see yet. Tuesday 1.00pm I arrive at Bournemouth Nutri Centre after a four-hour drive to see the store manager, Neil. We have a bit of a joke when I walk in because one of his team has a nose bleed – I ask if he has beaten him up! Afterwards, I give Neil the heads up about our new promotion on our Femergy and Menergy range. I also deliver his order which he placed the previous day and a POS pack. Another happy stockist! 1.30 After this I jump in the car to go to Sherborne to see lovely Julia and the troops at Natura Life Wholefoods. 3.00 Encounter difficulties. I arrive at Sherborne, but can’t find the store – stupid sat nav! 10 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

3.10 I park the car and walk to find the store. Found it! It is hidden down a little lane without access to cars. Now I don’t feel quite so stupid! Julia is very welcoming and it is lovely to put a face to the name. We have a chat about the products and how sales are going. Then I speak to one of the store’s customers who has questions about our Magnesium Oil after reading that it can help certain symptoms associated with stress. She bought the product. Result! After, Julia and I talk about promotions across the five stores and I agree to go and see Gary at the newest Natura Life Wholefoods store in Taunton, tomorrow. 4.00 Back in the car to see the team at The Bay Tree at Christchurch. 5.00 After an easy drive, I arrive at Christchurch. I decided to go to this store because I’m meeting with John in the morning, so I thought I’d check out the other store while I’m in the area and introduce myself. What a lovely team! 6.00 Day over – off to find the hotel, have some food and a chilled glass of wine or two! Wednesday 7.30am I have a bit of a lie in today as I have no dog to walk. I treat myself to a leisurely breakfast, before setting off to my first appointment. 9.30 I arrive at The Bay Tree at Ferndown. John and I get straight down to business over a cuppa. This is a very productive meeting and we agree on a promotion, local advertising and my next visit in September to do staff training. Staff training is a service we

offer to all our stores – it gives an overview of the products, an update on our latest clinical trials and how our range can help specific health conditions. 11.00 Back in the car again! I set off on my journey to Taunton for my meeting with Natura Life Wholefoods. It’s nice to be further down the country and experience some sun and warmth – head office says it’s raining in Sheffield. It’s always raining in Sheffield! 1.00pm There are two stores in Taunton – this one has recently opened and is on the main road. I meet with Kelly, the sales assistant, who uses our products and I write a note to send her a complimentary pack, including our magnesium flakes as she hasn’t tried those yet. Then I catch up with the owner, Gary. We discuss the possibility of getting the other BetterYou lines in store and decide on promotions. 3.00 All in all a very successful trip – apart from a dodgy sat nav! Now it’s time to make the long trip back up the M5 to see James and Waddle, making calls on the handsfree as I go. Contact: or 0114 220 2229. Always ask after Waddle in case he’s depressed with a name like that.

STAR TURN Retailers – nominate a quirky, fun, industrious or just plain weird rep! Email

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The concepT of Billy’s farm At Billy’s Farm we make tasty organic cookies without cane and beet sugar. They are lovingly made from cereals and syrups sweetened with fruit for those who demand cookies without processed sugar, and above all for those who demand naturally more flavour. A variety of cookies are also suitable for people with food allergies such as wheat, soy, eggs, milk etc. BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 11

Better retailing prOMOtiOn BuSineSS DevelOpMent

Make a

BeeLine foR tRee tiMe S

unday September 23 is a Big Day for Independent Health Food Retailers. It’s the day when you and your staff get the chance to meet more than 120 suppliers to discuss the latest products, prices and promotions specifically geared to increasing your business. On top of that, it’s a great day out, and it’s free. Free entry, free parking, free breakfast and lunch, and free petrol. It’s Tree Time 2012, where you can rub shoulders with your retailer colleagues as well as sample tasty, healthy products and sign up for all those tantalising offers. See the four-page promotion special that came with this issue of Better Retailing Magazine and plot your route to the Tree of Life Head Office in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. It’s where you’ll find numerous ideas and opportunities for increased business performance in the crucial autumn period, the run up to Christmas and through to spring next year.

 Up to 1,500 supplier deals  Exclusives Zone  Up to £100 RSP Goody Bag (one per store)  Registered childcare facilities  All day fun events for the kids  Lots of prizes to be won  £50 fuel card on arrival for every account holder

(one per store)

Who you’LL see At tRee tiMe More than 120 suppliers will be at Tree Time to discuss their products, prices and promotions: ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Absolute Aromas Alibi Allos* Alo* Amaizin, Amy’s Soup Atlantic Multipower* Avalon, Baby Zilli Bakery On Main Barkat Beanies Berry White Better You Big Oz Bio D Household Bio Kult Bioglan Biona Biotta Booja Booja Braw Bars Burnt Sugar Canderel Green*

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Chantico Cherry Active Chi* Clipper Comvita Crazy Jack Crudigno Damiano Darrell Lea De Rit* Dietary Specials Divine Drink Me Chai Dukan Diet Earth Friendly Eat Natural EcoForce Ecomil Ecover Ecozone* Ekoland* Ellas Kitchen Equazen Eskimo

ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Esti Faith Filet Bleu Fiordifrutta Fish4Ever Free & Easy Genigel Glee Gum Gluco Tabs Go Coco Goody Good Stuff Granovita Green & Blacks Hale & Hearty* Healthy Bowels Co Heath & Heather Hellenic Holex Holle Honey New Zealand Jordan’s Kallo Kelkin La bio Idea

Landgarten Le Pain Des Fleurs Lepicol Lestrin Lifestyle Organic Linwoods Little jacks Little Miracles Littleover Honey Lysine Manuka Gold Meridian Mic’s Chilli Michaels Originals Molenaartje* Mornflake Mune Water Nakd Natural by Nature Natural Health Practice ƒ Nature’s Store ƒ Natures Aid ƒ New Nordic ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Nocciolata Nourkrin Nutiva Oatly Ogilvy’s Honey Oh So Optibac Organic Burst Organico Orgran Ortis Panda Licorice Patersons Pearls of Smarkand Performax Pitta Patta Plamil Plum Baby* Potters Powershot Prewett’s Proganic Juices Promensil Propercorn

ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Pulsin Pure & Free* Pure Via* Queen Bee Manuka Honey Rabenhorst* Ricola Rio Trading Rizopia & Lucy Bee RJ’s Licorice Rock’s Roots & Wings* Salcura* Salus UK Sambucol Sanchi Seed Stacked Seven Seas Simpkins Simply Gentle Spry Sula Sunita Synergy

ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Syno Vital Tiana Tiger Balm TOL Pasta & Sauce* Trek Trufree & Various Vermints Vivil Volvic Weleda Whole Earth Wholebake Xagave* Xlear Xylobrit Yogi Tea

*Exclusive to Tree Time

BOOk nOW: Andy Derbyshire 01782 567162 12 BETTER RETailiNG MaGaZiNE

Better Retailing Promotion

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Sample great taste combined with the healthiest of ingredients at Tree Time 2012 and help yourself to an extra 15% off orders placed on the day!


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Product Description


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Cranberry Orange Cashew Granola, Nutty Cranberry Maple, Apple Raisin Walnut and Rainforest Granola. Find out more at Tree Time or visit

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10% Discount in the September catalogue and an extra 5% discount on orders placed at Tree Time.

Order online at or call 01782 567120 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 13

RAW eneRGy

Surrey firebrand Alan Martin has broken the mould with his Food For Thought stores in Kingston and Guildford. Here, he tells Denise Barrett just how he went about carving that niche. We caught up with Alan Martin in a happy but messy “foodie mood”, making vegan versions of well known confections such as Mars and Snickers.

Tting, tting

Rawsome! The finished product

Alan Martin prepar to make a batch of Vegan ‘Snickers’ bars.


have a favourite personal mantra inspired by Food For Thought: “If this environment has the wherewithal to inspire the desire within you, this environment has the wherewithal to deliver it to you – no exceptions.” In other words, my life changed when I ‘stopped going to work’ and opened my two stores. I’ve always loved what I do and do what I love. And I’ve mostly been in retail. But Food For Thought was something else. 14 BETTER RETailiNG MaGaZiNE

I’m a pretty off the wall guy (ask anyone in the natural health industry) but I’m deadly serious about our two stores. And about our suppliers, our customers and our staff. In fact we set out from the beginning to create and deliver not only a fabulous lifestyle experience, but to break the ‘independent retailer’ mould. And I think we may have cracked it. Let me give you a taste of my day. This morning I got up really early, showered and had

breakfast, which usually consists of fruit and some kind of smoothie loaded with superfoods. My smoothie of the week is water melon and goji berry, with all that wonderful citrulline. Had a quick flick through my emails, checked our Facebook page then decided to make a video. I fancied making a quick tasty vegan snack, with tortilla chips, mixed beans, olive pasta sauce, vegusto vegan sausage and vegan cheese. So I headed straight for the kitchen (I am lucky to have a house with loads of space, over four floors) then a quick trip to Kingston Food For Thought. Back I came, armed with the ingredients, prepared the snacks, shot and edited the video and uploaded it to You Tube. Then the prepared snacks went to the store for tasting on our now legendary sampling table. So, there’s my

Sales & Marketing

first marketing exercise to share with you: Create a delicious, dedicated space in-store! On another planet? I am lucky to live in the middle of town and when I step outside the house I’m surrounded by the vibrant historic backdrop of the market place in Kingston. It’s called ‘the jewel in Kingston’s crown’. So I know I am blessed but I put a lot back, so the karma is good. Now, if I’m visiting our other store, in Guildford, I can immerse myself in another historic town (also in Surrey) but also soak up the countryside. With this, who would want the daily grind of commuting? I may be a retail animal, but I’m very creative, and I like to see some ‘theatre’ on the shop floor. In the welcoming section of both stores, we allot a creative space: the impressive wooden table in Kingston that I mentioned earlier, which is brilliant for promotions, displays and tastings, and some funky decorated tables in Guildford. I’m really into raw food, so it’s great to be able to demonstrate the goodies. I’m actually working on a raw vegan ‘Mars’ bar recipe at the moment (renamed my Curiosity Bar, geddit?), and the joke is I’m going to send it to my (equally Scottish) brother up in deepest West Lothian, to deep-fry it. He’s already told me he was inspired to start making smoothies after he and his wife Nicky stayed with us a few weeks ago. My brother’s idea of a smoothie turned out to be a Mars bar and Irn-Bru version. He’s a maverick Martin too – and has a passion for writing. He’s working on his second book on football and has bought a house because it’s near a UFO hot spot! Quelle famille; you couldn’t make it up. Let me entertain you Back at the display table, I’m working on a new idea, and this is where we really get ‘theatrical’. I’m auditioning solo acoustic musicians to come and perform over the lunchtime period for our customers, to create ambience in-store. There are a lot of really good buskers in Kingston, and who knows we may discover the next Robbie Williams! And we might not have far to search with our own industry’s talented Bertel from Windmill Organics on our Kingston doorstep. I like to think of Food For Thought as kind of installation art, with the products and our wonderful dedicated staff making it all happen. Incidentally, this isn’t all altruism, I am quick to identify an opportunity for PR and marketing and Food For Thought has a prolific Facebook and Twitter following. I also see Food For Thought as a platform and even a launch pad for artisan and indie

companies. I love scouting for what’s new and quirky and not necessarily tried and tested. Food For Thought is a kind of organic barometer for our marketplace. We are very busy in the stores, so I can afford to do it while indulging myself at the same time. We have guest spots, too: Justin, who comes in and prepares delicious raw vegan food, spends one day a week in each store. We have a lot of fun together creating recipes, making sure they work, taste good and are practical and sensible. But, this is punk health and I am a punk nutritionist! I have labelled Justin ‘Just Incredible’, because he makes just incredible raw food. We also have Carrie doing a day a week in each store creating more theatre, from whacky electrical devices, to whipping up BonPom* Soul Drink to creating a French Bistro in-store for sampling of the Vegusto range of vegan foods.

Raw talent at the Kingston Food Festival For me, nothing could be better than rustling up a tasty raw vegan rice pilaf at the Kingston Food Festival with the Big Food Market and the Live Food Show in the town centre, just outside our store. The show, rated among the top five Food Festivals by the Sunday Telegraph, ran on a weekend in August. Food writer Andrew Kay acted as compere and we were up against chefs from leading multiples like Zizzi, Las Iguanas and Frankie and Benny’s as well as other independents like Cappadocia and Riverside Vegetaria. Dedicated foodie Andrew was, he said, “very keen to try the raw food being processed on stage by Food For Thought.” There was a five-minute challenge at the end of every chef’s presentation when Andrew picked four or five items for the chef to create something, a kind of mini Ready Steady Cook. There was a brief moment when I thought I might be going from raw food vegan to preparing a meal with ingredients that still had a pulse. I needn’t have worried – he kept to the spirit of what I was doing and I beat the clock, managing to make my dish in three minutes, best time of the weekend! *BonPom is Alan’s first foray into manufacture – see page 25

The Holland & Barrett factor I have always had a flair for retail, it really is in my blood. I started out running John Menzies newsagent stores in my native Scotland. I was brought to London to ‘Menzify’ some branches in the Smoke. I immediately knew this was where I was meant to be. One day, emerging from Bond Street underground station, I spied a health food store bearing the name Holland & Barrett. Now this was the time when H&B were pioneering and cutting edge. There were millions of people milling around waiting for the personal appearance of the late, great, Rod Brennan from Blackmores, the renowned Australian company. Rod advised me on my diet and it changed my life. No wheat, dairy, red meat or eggs, all irritants to my asthmatic condition. He also advised me on supplementation. Soon, I felt better and then much better. My Road to Damascus! I was hooked. So, goodbye to John Menzies and hello to H&B and managing their flagship store (at the time) in Bond Street Tube Station. Multitasking as ever, in between all this, I had bought into the upmarket convenience store Cullen’s franchise opportunity. I had three branches under my belt, which I sold in the late 1990s. Fast-forwarding to 2008, two stores in Surrey called Food For Thought needed some general rescuing and some TLC. I bought the stores with my business partner Rob, and, luckily, we have never looked back. Embracing the vision What did we have at the beginning of all that, apart from dented bank accounts? Vision! And the fabulous thing was that all the staff from both stores wanted to stay for the journey. We gained two stores and around 20 staff. Everyone embraced the change. Lisa, my manager at Kingston, has run the store now for around 12 years and Alja, now managing Guildford, has been with the company for over six years. Since 2008, despite credit crunch, recession and double dips, the only doubling we are doing is in turnover! We’ve also kept many, many customers, but have attracted a new customer dynamic of both sexes in the mid 20s to early 30s age range. The core of my retail philosophy is engage, be generous, be aware, be imaginative and be brave. Put things out there. We’ve done work with Kingston University and Kingston College. And by the time you read this we will have shared food and given books away for Humanitarian Day (August 19). Also important: visualise. Create the seeds of the process and see it through. BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 15


Developing your online presence (part 4) Following on from tutorials on the purpose, creation and structure of a health food store website, Stuart Jackson looks at modular aspects to improve your customers’ shopping experience.


he last three issues have taken us through the key preparatory steps and the core software and code structure of a functioning online shop. Your core website and online shop will now need some basic functional modules to ensure that your business has all it needs to service the online visitor. To complement the functional build advice I am throwing in some tips to help you focus in on the key performance indicators.

USER REGISTRATION AND LOG IN This module handles the customer’s access, history and security. Depending on the level of complexity you desire or can afford it will require at least a secure “log in” process and a personal information profile. Typically, this module will draw data to it from others so the user can access and 16 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

>TIP 1 Speed is of the essence – a slow website response time will lose you customers who press escape, back, refresh and click away through impatience. And there are a LOT of impatient customers out there who will go somewhere else when they don’t see what they want immediately.

control their shopping history, loyalty points and write reviews. Eventually it could also introduce the ability to personalise the way the website interacts with the individual user’s preferences.

PRODUCT PAGE This is the customer-viewable record file for each product and will include basic data such as the barcode, brand, description, size, price and pictures. For the purposes of search engine optimisation, or SEO*, not to mention customer enjoyment, the more unique information added to this file the better, so add a full description including ingredients and any notable attributes (such as whether the product is organic, for example). This page also offers the opportunity to be creative in the information you provide to the consumer on the product and its uses, all of which will aid your search result rankings. SHOPPING CART There are a multitude of ways to categorise and visually present products for selection, and an unfriendly or dysfunctional shopping


cart will lose you customers. It is, therefore, critical to take time over this module to seek out the best independent and supermarket sites to use as a template or for gleaning ideas from. Don’t waste time and money reinventing the wheel. Offer a comprehensive “search shop” facility and incorporate promotional offers, new products, product news, recommended choices based on the customer’s selection, past favourites and “staff picks”. This latter is an important part of the independent’s armoury as customers warm to the idea that your staff have knowledge of the products and use them themselves. The shopping experience should permit the user to: ƒƒ See an on-going sub-total of their bill ƒƒ Have the ability to delete/amend quantities from their basket ƒƒ Permit them to easily navigate in and out of the shopping cart ƒƒ Store their purchases so far, and ƒƒ Decide on delivery options and delivery addresses before committing to purchase. Throughout the shopping experience reassure the visitor of the site’s security.

>TIP 2 Make use of your database and communicate. Every person that registers on your site is a potential shopper, every shopper a potential regular, and every friend yet another potential customer. Communicate on email to promote, encourage and inform.

DELIVERY The site will require an automated charging methodology for deliveries, including the ability to calculate where an order is going, the type of products contained within, the quantity (and possibly weight) and value against a variety of pre-determined regional courier or postal charges. SEARCH FACILITY For speed and accuracy I suggest splitting the search into two functions: one for the whole website and one for the shop alone. The search facility’s effectiveness relates directly to the website’s response time, quality of the database and the quality/structure of the data entered. Ideally a visitor should be able to search by category, brand, description,

part description or attributes, and the site should contain synonyms and commonly misspelled words. Search results should be available to sort by alpha, search rank, brand, price and bestselling lines. ORDER SYSTEM AND AUDIT TRAIL A far more complex process than most expect, you will need a full confirmation and communication trail with the customer to keep them informed of the order, out of stocks, substitutes and delivery. Internally, a complex set of reports and checks will be required. Here is a brief view of the process: ƒƒ Customer places order and pays ƒƒ Payment gateway checks and authorises card amount (or not) ƒƒ Picking list generated ƒƒ System for handling part-picked orders to be dispatched or fulfilled later ƒƒ Out of stocks and substitutes system ƒƒ Picked list updated to invoice and payment taken ƒƒ Dispatch paperwork and courier communication ƒƒ All documents filed in reporting system ƒƒ Claims, returns and not at home systems ƒƒ Accounting system for relevant parts of above VAT An internal administrative process for assigning and calculating VAT will be required, along with correctly charging that to the customer and reporting same to accounts for HM Revenue returns. If trading internationally, check your tax obligations.

>TIP 3 Functionality across platforms is vital. You must prepare and test your website on all recent versions of popular internet browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. If you don’t, users will experience difficulties. The task grows ever more complex as mobile browsers add to the mix.

Topics could, for example, include advice on how to order, an explanation of shipping charges, the various payment options, the impact of VAT, what to do if there is a problem with log in or an order in progress, how to return goods, the cancellation policy, site security assurances, data protection and member benefits. ‘CONTACT US’ AND ‘ABOUT US’ Simple brochure pages with whatever content you wish about the company plus full address, registered office details and a contact email facility that can be emailed from the webpage.

>TIP 4 Deliver the goods quickly and accurately. Online customers don’t like waiting for their food shopping and quickly dump you for a competitor if you don’t communicate and act quickly.

WEBSITE REPORTING An online shop is an additional sales channel to the bricks and mortar business of shop keeping. It is therefore crucial to ensure that sales and costs are analysed and reported separately from those of the shop. Reports will be needed to cover the following areas: ƒƒ Who used the administration access and made changes to what and when ƒƒ All sorts of analysis on visitor behaviour ƒƒ Orders completed ƒƒ Lost orders ƒƒ Fulfilment analysis ƒƒ Revenue tracking and lost payments ƒƒ Outstanding customer orders ƒƒ Returns ƒƒ Out of stocks ƒƒ Sales information Join me in the next issue for more tips and a look at the best creative features we can add to make our website win the online war for sales. *See the Online & Technology article in Issue 3, Summer 2012.

HELP FACILITY AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS This is a major and never-ending undertaking that should explain the purpose and how to go about using each service on the website, along with a statement of legal obligations.

For previous articles on this subject, visit ©Stuart Jackson 2012




Stop losing margin, says Stuart Jackson. You might think that is easier said than done, but here Stuart outlines various crucial techniques to preserve that essential Gross Profit.


any of us are failing to understand the importance of “margin” and all of us should put a mass of effort into buying our goods at the best price. Assuming we then manage to sell them at the correct retail price, they generate the gross profit (GP) our business needs to pay for all its functions and the livelihoods of its people. It is therefore all the more strange that retailers tend to avoid dealing with the factors that destroy that profit margin. These are the factors that attack and harm profit margin: ƒƒ Wastage ƒƒ Theft ƒƒ Delivery error ƒƒ Price checking ƒƒ Self-funded promotions ƒƒ Products reduced in price for clearance. These are complex and often highly emotive subjects that some retailers find difficult to tackle with sustained gusto.

Wastage To demonstrate how destructive this can be, let’s take a straightforward example. An order is placed for 10 items (no VAT) all costing £1.00 each with an RRP of £1.54 returning (for the sake of demonstration) a health food retail industry average of 35% GP*. If just one of those items is wasted rather than sold it has the following impact: Ten items were purchased costing £10.00 but instead of all being sold for a total of £15.40, only nine were sold for £13.86, shrinking the GP margin on that entire order from 35% to just 27.8%. It doesn’t matter whether the “wasted” item was damaged, short dated or simply recorded as having arrived when in fact it did not; each scenario kills profit. If this business needs 33% GP to pay for its overheads leaving a small 2% net profit, then this order has just damaged that expectation. Profitability is destroyed and the business forced into a loss-making situation. On the plus side, any work done to reduce the negative effects of these factors pushes up the annual gross margin and that cash goes straight onto the bottom line. No retailer can completely eradicate waste but it can be reduced through open and 18 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

honest transparency among the management team. Root causes are over ordering, short dating, poor stock rotation or “handling” damage. Record and review all waste so that the cause can be identified and rectified, but avoid punishment regimes where fear forces the problem underground. Reduced to sell and self-funded promotions The trick is to always be on the lookout for actions or events that can damage margin. Promotions are great if funded

by the supplier, but be careful how many promotions you fund internally. Squeezing the margin by reducing the selling price might boost sales but you are impacting on the overall GP again. Always record discounts given away by you in the accounts so that the loss can be monitored and its impact on profit demonstrated (see below). Reducing items that are damaged or going out of date for a fast sale is a form of wastage. The total value discounted over any period is the same as having wasted that value of >p26

Better Retailing Promotion

Striking Gold

The magic of the London Olympics rubbed off on stores across the UK and Ireland when three gold medalists of yesteryear helped boost summer sales of Solgar’s Performance Range.


rue to its word, Solgar delivered this summer. Between May and the end of August, health food retailers got on the Gold Medal platform with POS and window promotions appealing to Olympics-inspired customers. And store visits by Team Solgar – Olympic gold medalists Tessa Sanderson, Allan Wells and Ronnie Delany – brought dramatic results whenever one of them came to town. All three were firmly behind the Performance Range: L-Carnitine tablets & liquid; L-Carnitine complex; Energy Modulators; Nutri Nano CoQ10 and Celadrin. London’s John Bell & Croyden saw a staggering £7000 of sales of Solgar products on one evening in July as part of

its Great British Summer celebration. Tessa Sanderson, pictured with Solgar rep Matthew Sherlock, chatted with customers and signed autographs while counter staff served eager shoppers. “We took a week’s worth of sales of Solgar products on that evening,” said a delighted JB&C Head of Brand Development Jamie Russell. Solgar is consistently in the Top Three of JB&C’s suppliers by sales. Glasgow’s Quality Vitamins & Herbs put out a thousand leaflets to announce that Scotland’s famous Olympic sprint champion Allan Wells would be in store – and sales were up 35% on the day. “It was a great response and really helped us in what has

been a difficult period for us,” said owner Dilip Kotecha. “We really appreciate Solgar’s support with promotions like this.” Garrett McCabe, MD of Health Matters on Grafton Street, Dublin, said of Ronnie Delany’s visit: “Ronnie is a true gent and regaled both customers and staff with great memories of his time as an athlete. Customers were delighted to get a chance to meet him with one even bringing in a photo of Ronnie’s Olympic win in 1956 and also a race programme to be signed. It was a fantastic day with a real buzz being created by our staff and Ronnie, with sales also lifting. A great idea by Solgar.” BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 19

increaSe grOSS Margin

“It is so easy to destroy the good work done at the buying stage, and the few percent difference that working hard on all these factors can create is enough to keep most retailers in profit.” Stuart Jackson

whole product. You should carry out the same review and improvement process as suggested under wastage earlier. errOrS at “gOODS in” In the high pressure environment of retail, one of the first checks to make is at “goods in” where the volume of deliveries and the need to get arrived goods onto the shop floor results in cutting corners on checking. Every missing item, short dated or damaged product reduces that order’s margin. Moreover, every system that is tightened to manage pricing, stock rotation, sell by dates, theft, out of stocks and stock valuations is corrupted by the knowledge that error could have occurred on arrival. A solid stock system begins by controlling goods in and out through the sales door so that everything that happens in between is quantifiable and accountable. Another critical factor at goods in is price inspection. I know of retailers who have no system for checking that the price they ordered is the same as the price paid on invoice. It is a fact that there are many cost errors on suppliers’ invoices and since a lot of those errors relate to missing or incorrect discount 20 BETTER RETailiNG MaGaZiNE

rates, they are rarely in our favour. If you don’t already do it, set up a system that creates a purchase order which is checked against the invoice for goods received and pricing. At the other end of pricing we must maintain the selling price and when the cost changes the sale price must change too or we will damage the GP percentage. Special care must be taken when a product has dropped in RRP as re-pricing old stock will impact negatively on margin. For those products that arrive with no RRP I recommend great care in calculating and maintaining internally generated selling prices. returning gOODS Once errors have been discovered at goods in, a claim must be made to the supplier. For ease of completion, it is best to create a standard form with all possible “reason codes” listed. You should retain all claim forms and match them to credit notes ensuring follow through. It is so easy to destroy the good work done at the buying stage, and the few percent difference that working hard on all these factors can create is enough to keep most retailers in profit.

hOW tO hanDle theSe MarginBuSting factOrS in yOur accOuntS There is no statutory requirement to analyse and report on any of these factors. In the eyes of the Inland Revenue, there is no impact on the business’s total revenue or its costs so it is unlikely your accountant will be helping you to crack this problem. You may even need to switch to an accountant who understands management accounting for business and not just statutory return accounting. Without detailing these factors, there is no ability to quantify fluctuations in annual margin (or shorter periods), and when that occurs, no way to know what is causing the problem. The last thing we need is to find our margin has dropped with no clue (other than instinct) as to what might be causing the harm. By recording discounts given at the till that amount can be “grossed up” to show what the margin would have been had you not given it away, and you can see if you are increasing or decreasing the amount of discount period on period. Similarly by recording wastage you can see its impact on stock. By handling these two factors (assuming other disciplines such as claims are also being managed) it is possible to tell, through a process of elimination, that theft is on the increase. An ability to analyse where problems lie before they become too damaging is a vital weapon in our armoury for the battle to stay in profit. In the next issue we will look at the sensitive issue of theft. *See past issues for calculations.

For previous articles on this subject, visit ©Stuart Jackson 2012

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If you’re serious about health For more information contact your preferred Health Store Wholesaler

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Give your image a makeover When was the last time you truly stepped back and looked at your business through the eyes of a customer, supplier, friend or consultant? Shop front branding, cleaning and painting can be done really well at low cost as can an internal spruce up which will instil a sense of care and longevity in your customers as well as attract passing trade. No one likes or trusts an uncared for store. It is not just your customers that image matters to – it is critical to suppliers, landlords and all other trade relationships. And don’t neglect your web image either. Almost everyone today checks out a business online so even if you cannot launch a full online shop, at least arrange a clean, smart brochure style website to represent you to the world. Like it or not businesses with a poor web presence are not taken seriously and that matters to those from whom you ask credit and to those you wish to partner up or align yourself with. Get yourself seen Make your shop front the brightest and most eye catching in the street. Use leaflet distribution companies (or your own staff) to blitz the closest residential areas, and participate in local markets and events. Search out local surgeries, pubs and cafes for the most widely available local free magazines and advertise with them – they are not expensive and local publishers are keen to negotiate for your business. Take the first steps into social media and concentrate your effort on sites relating to your town or city (see previous issues for advice on this subject). Added value services Could you be providing more services to the customers you already have? Talk to your customers about the things they really need. If you are in a university or college town then marketing students will sometimes carry out a survey for you free of charge as part of their studies. Find out what other things customers would like to buy from your store or what services would appeal to them and make them buy more. Proactive retailers are offering call and collect, home delivery and special item ordering services while others provide commission-based booking services for local therapists, rent therapy rooms and stage paid for events after hours. Stop and think about ways you can make more use of your premises, supplier resources, your stock and your team. Look for new markets Where are the untapped markets for your products?


MAKE IT GROW Challenge yourself with these thought-provoking tips to keep your business growing, writes Stuart Jackson

Putting aside online sales, are there markets for your skills, products and services locally that just haven’t been tapped? How many complementary clinics are there in your area with which you could you strike up an arrangement? Are there local health, diet, fitness, and children’s’ health groups with which you could interact, give advice and sell products to? Build customer loyalty Are you forcing your customers to go to your competition? Health food shoppers are very loyal but do you force them to shop at other grocers because you don’t cater for their daily and weekly needs? Stocking fresh produce such as bread, milk, fruit and vegetables and an extensive range of chilled lines will add to the complexities

of retailing but capture the loyalty of your customers. If they don’t need to go elsewhere then they cannot be wooed by competitors. People shop for convenience so you want them in your store every time they go shopping and it’s you that picks up that extra purchase. Be entrepreneurial Could you link up with another person or business to create a new revenue stream? Is there somebody you know with whom you could start a new venture? Look for inspiration by reading the “Bolt on Business” feature in this issue which tells the story of health food retailers that have branched out into the supply chain and are now supplying goods to their peers. If you don’t go to trade shows, talk to your suppliers and network with other


Most of you will have trouble with their skills because you will never have asked them and when you stop to think about their talent you will find that you have either never considered this, don’t know or find it clashes with their job. This exercise will get muddier when you then ask the staff what they think their talents and skills are and when you get them to write down their personality definition. At the end of this will be a massive benefit from finding that people can be moved to different tasks. You may even get help with a problem you have and the team will be motivated by your involving them in this way. Find out people’s strengths and bat to them – don’t force round pegs into square holes. Seek help where it matters Being a lone owner-operator in hard times makes it difficult to comprehend the value of paying for advice. We simply have not experienced working environments where it is normal to turn to professionals to supply market intelligence or get an outside critique when we need it. Consider these developments that might be in your mind: you may be embarking on a major project, or your business is not returning the profit you need, or perhaps you plan to sell up in three years, for example. In such cases the right professional can save you time and money and earn you far more than their fee in a short period of time. Open your mind and suppress your pride to seek assistance. Every major company and flourishing entrepreneur has tapped into other people’s skills to help them succeed.

professionals, you will miss out on the best supply deals and on joint venture opportunities. Who influences you? I love the saying: “Associate with people that are going nowhere and one day, everything they have will be yours.” Surround yourself with positive thinkers and achievers and let their energy and strategies rub off on you. Looking at your social and commercial relationships, ask yourself what picture a stranger would build of you based on their perception of the people you associate with. The administration energy drain Are you the type of retailer that has lost their spark for daily interaction with customers and now spends most of the time behind closed

doors doing paperwork? If so, it’s time to think about replacing yourself with someone to “paper push” while you get back on the shop floor to win business. You need to work out what will allow you to find your passion again. A tremendous amount of administration time can be saved with technology and the right solution will usually pay for the cost in efficiency savings and sales increases from a freed-up owner. Making the best use of the skills available Grab a sheet of paper, write down all your staff names and write next to their name what personality type they are (people friendly, creative, logistical, scientific, artistic etc), what is their main talent as you see it, what their skills are and what job they do for you.

Remember to thank your team Most independent shop owners have not worked for someone else for a very long time, if ever, and do not readily identify with the emotional needs of their employees. Because we tend to be the type of people who require less praise or confirmation from others, we forget that a simple thank you or a moment taken to offer praise can mean a lot to someone who has just done a good job. Acknowledgement of a job well done is a hugely motivating factor for your team, so make a conscious effort to go into the shop tomorrow and look for opportunities to give praise where it’s due. I suspect you will be amazed at the response.

For previous articles on this subject, visit ©Stuart Jackson 2012



What’s to stop independents becoming wholesalers, distributors or manufacturers as well as retailers? Alistair Forrest talks to four entrepreneurial shopkeepers…

exhibitions and spoke to different magazines based on our 20 years’ experience in the health store business. We also used a marketing company to introduce the product to health stores around the UK. It was a great success, so much so that many other people have picked up the idea and done it as well, increasing the popularity of Barley Grass all over the UK. It’s time consuming, but it has a great reward to it. It is very satisfying to know that we are providing such an amazingly pure, nutritious and beneficial product to people beyond our own local shop and now nationally and internationally. Dru Worldwide Store: Dimensions Health Store, Bangor, Northern Wales Entrepreneur: Lynda Binks Product: Organically-certified New Zealand barley grass Contact: 01248 351562 or In 2005, we recognised the powerful qualities of Barley Grass powder and because we are a large team across all our activities, we wanted to buy in bulk in order to improve the health and welfare of our team. But the bulk was more than we could use. We saw the opportunity to sell the Barley Grass powder wholesale as this brilliant product was not then widely known in the UK. Having a health food store provided the perfect opportunity to retail it as well. It took a while to find the right supplier and discover how to import it along with all the red tape that goes with it. It was also important to have organic barley grass and to get it certified by the Soil Association. We needed to negotiate with the wholesalers, many of whom we had a good relationship with already because we bought our stock from them. Thinking through how to package and present our product took a lot of time as we wanted it to be environmentally friendly. We had our own customer base and had our own online clientele. We went to 24 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

NATorigin Store: Butterflies Healthcare, Middleton Cheney, Banbury Entrepreneurs: James and Michelle Sutton Product: Skincare and cosmetics range approved by Allergy UK Contact: 0845 838 6704 or michelle@ Our store is not a health food store as such, although alongside NATorigin we also sell and distribute vitamins for eye health. We were already selling online and distributing a hypo-allergenic beauty range called Eye Care Cosmetics, a successful French pharmacy brand with a 30year history. The manufacturers, Contapharm Laboratories, applied the same principles to formulate NATorigin and also focused on using natural and organic ingredients. The launch products were made available to us in 2009. Importing from an EU country is easier as there are no import duties or VAT to pay. Contapharm allowed us to place low initial orders to establish the range with minimal outlay and they staggered the release of each category. Eye products were released first followed by skincare and then cosmetics each quarter, and this helped us to expand the range gradually. Contapharm had some input on the end retail price as they wanted it to be in line with

their European pricing. We had a lot of free marketing support from their Export Director who would attend trade shows with us and visit key clients. Establishing lead times for orders has been tricky but we are still able to have flexible ordering quantities. However, variations in the exchange rate between the Euro and the pound in the recent past have affected our margin. As we did not have the marketing budget of the big beauty brands, we needed a way to show the quality of our products but from an independent source. We decided to enter beauty awards and offered our products for review by beauty journalists and this has worked well for us. Obtaining Allergy UK approval was important for us as it is the unique selling point of NATorigin and sets us apart from our competitors. Targeting our marketing to this niche audience has been key in growing the brand organically and reaching the right people. The brand has been very well received since its launch and has won many national beauty awards. It is the only cosmetics or skincare range approved by Allergy UK making it the first choice for anyone concerned about sensitive skin and eyes. Preparing award entries, looking for new opportunities, updating our marketing material


and the website are ongoing. Day to day, we respond to requests for information from retail customers, trade accounts and follow up with potential stockists. Looking after existing stockists, ensuring they have stock, leaflets and samples is also vital. It is time consuming so we have to be selective and efficient with the work we do. Beauty buyers and retailers are busy in an ever-growing natural beauty market – some leads from trade shows and beauty events take months to come fruition but when they do, it makes it all worthwhile. Kokoro Haramaki & Healing Bamboo Store: Natural Health, Welwyn Garden City and Hertford Entrepreneur: Julie Goodwin Contact: 01438 718252 or I discovered Haramaki, a traditional Japanese garment which is used as a tummy wrap, via one of our Japanese therapists. All her clients who used them thought they were fabulous at helping with poor circulation, cold hands and feet, period pains etc., and I thought they were completely unique and tied in well with the rest of the products I sell in store.  I found Healing Bamboo charcoal joint supports and mats in Anaheim a year ago. Again the company had a very similar set up to mine in that they had shops and therapy centres. I saw these products as an alternative to magnet therapy and a completely new concept which also tied in with the popularity of bamboo charcoal products. The supply of the Kokoro Haramaki has been quite complex as I cannot speak Japanese. I am very keen to buy from Japan as they have the best quality Haramaki and maintain the traditional Japanese design. I am fortunate to be dealing with some fantastic

“As EU regulations become more restrictive, I think it is good to look for novel and effective products that retailers can sell to complement other product ranges they already have in store.” Jule Goodwin

regulations become more restrictive, I think it is good to look for novel and effective products that retailers can sell to complement other product ranges they already have in store. BonPom Store: Food For Thought, Kingston and Guildford Entrepreneur: Alan Martin Contact: or web

Japanese contacts who are very supportive of my business and have helped source and export the products, and help with the product name and logo, packaging design and PoS. It is the first time the manufacturer of the Kokoro Haramaki has distributed products outside Japan and they are really excited to hear how the business is going and how well the products are being received.    Importing Healing Bamboo products has been relatively easy as the USA supplier was familiar with the export of products and helped me a lot. However, it is a steep learning curve finding out about import duties, taxes, and how to arrange delivery of the products once they reach the UK. I have asked lots of people in the trade who are already familiar with these procedures and without exception, everyone has been really helpful in giving me lots of advice and guidance.  There hasn’t been much room for negotiation on the cost prices to myself and all products have to be paid proforma which has led to quite a cash flow issue. My suppliers have been very helpful in giving advice and guidance wherever possible, including helping at the Natural Products Show on my stand in Olympia. However, most of the marketing has been down to myself although they have come up with quite a few ideas about the distribution of the products. Overall the business plan for both ranges has been realistic, although I underestimated the cost of setting up packaging, warehousing and marketing. I also didn’t fully appreciate how much margin is swallowed up when distributing through the wholesalers. I have now converted the cellar in my Hertford shop as a distribution centre which gives a huge saving on warehousing and packaging costs.  I would like to take on more products in the future as I become more proficient and knowledgeable, especially if the Kokoro Haramaki and Healing Bamboo products do well. There are some really exciting products out there which aren’t available in the UK. As EU

My BonPom range is my first foray into being a manufacturer. The vegan superfood goodies are pretty exotic and include flavour of the month Chia seeds, Goji berries and Inca berries, which I call nature’s ‘Opal Fruit’. I’ve worked on the packaging and graphics with a brilliant and empathetic designer, Stephen Nicolaides, who’s a raw-food vegan. He loves what we are about, and created an iconic eco-friendly pack, decorated with a magnified detail of the featured ingredients’ botanical structure. The packaging is silver and streamlined but we wanted to complement that with a nostalgic botanical drawings feel, almost Da Vinci-like, as in where art meets science. All very fractal and exciting. On a practical note, the stand-up packs are resealable and reusable, so totally antiwaste. Naturally, the BonPom range is in Food For Thought but I wholesale them to stores such as Beanfreaks, The Bran Tub and Natural Health in Hertford. We’ve produced a newsletter for each product to explain its history and rationale – for example, South American ‘Chia’ has a ‘heart of seeds’ on the cover and Mayan style graphics. Also, BonPom is a great way of collaborating with other indies – no multiples or corporate chains for us. You have to have a generous community spirit in this game, we’re all in it together, standing out from the multiples and standing up to the supermarkets.


HUMAN RESOURCES Getting your contract right

Take time and care on spelling out employment terms to be fair to staff and protect your business, says Stuart Jackson


eople are the largest overhead in every business and the management of them will determine whether they become the business’s greatest asset or heaviest burden. Over the next few issues we will explore a mix of practical human resource advice and discuss leadership styles. Let’s start with the most important order of business for employees: getting their contract right*. This has become critical for three reasons: 1. Not having a contract weakens your position in any dispute. 2. If something is not written down then precedent takes over and that can be very dangerous. 3. If you don’t get the contract terms right at the start then it cannot be changed without agreement from the employee. It needs to allow flexibility and cover all eventualities.


New employees are entitled (by law) to receive a “written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment”. It must be provided within two months of the employee starting and include the following detail: ƒƒ Name of the employer and employee ƒƒ Date employment started and notice arrangements ƒƒ Salary and payment arrangements ƒƒ Hours of work and location ƒƒ Holiday and sick leave entitlement ƒƒ Job title or description ƒƒ A declaration on the employee’s status with regard to contracting out pension certification ƒƒ An explanation of grievance procedures. It’s important to remember that if there is no company provision for any of the points (such as contributory pension) the

statement must make this clear. The point cannot just be omitted. Any employee who has not received such a written statement within the specified time frame has the right to complain to an employment tribunal, which can fine the employer. If employment ends the staff member (with one year’s service) can refer any dispute to an Employment Tribunal but must do so within three months of leaving. In certain circumstances (such as a racial discrimination case) the one year qualifying period is waved. This compulsory written statement barely scratches the surface of what employers need to do these days. Employment law always errs on the side of the employee and it is no longer possible to act in many situations unless the contract of employment specifically permits it. A good example of this


is the subject of holiday pay. If, for instance, a member of staff leaves having taken more holiday days in the current year than they have earned it is no longer possible for the employer to legally deduct that overpayment from their final wages unless agreement exists in writing. Conversely, particularly onerous contract terms would not stand up to challenge, so while the contract has to be comprehensive it also has to be reasonable.

want to make clear any special circumstances such as attending stock counts or working unsociable hours. A broad statement that staff are required to work any reasonable amount of extra hours (and how these will be paid) within the guidelines laid down by the Working Time Regulations is worth including. Breaks Even if you offer a more generous system of breaks than the legal minimum I suggest putting the minimum in the contract or you will never have the option to reduce what you grant now. The legal minimums are that all staff aged 18 and over will receive a 20 minute unpaid break within any shift exceeding 6 hours duration while staff aged over school leaving age but under 18 will receive a 30 minute unpaid break within any shift exceeding 4.5 hours. Holidays Outline the dates for which the “holiday year” operates along with staff entitlement including public holidays, then go on to explain policy on issues such as: ƒƒ Whether accrued holiday time will be carried over from one holiday year to the next ƒƒ The system you use in year one to calculate and accrue entitlement ƒƒ The application and authorisation procedure ƒƒ Any restrictions on who goes when ƒƒ Any dates the shop is closed and whether compulsory holiday days are assigned ƒƒ What happens to overpaid holiday pay on termination of employment (a method of deducting or reclaiming any overpayments).

WHAT A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT SHOULD NOW INCLUDE In addition to the information required in the “written statement” it is wise to incorporate the following into a more comprehensive contract. Place and hours of work State all possible places of work (including at events) plus a provision for working at any new premises in the local area. It is good practice to state that everyone is employed on a 12-week trial period after which a decision will be made on their appointment to a permanent position. Hours should be kept flexible with a statement that they will be rostered by a manger and will include any combination of days/hours providing they do not exceed six days from any seven in a single week (five days from any seven in a single week for young workers) and the hours of work stated. You may also

Timekeeping & Absence Explain any system for clocking in and out plus the penalties (such as an administration charge or discipline) for not abiding by it. Otherwise the main points to cover are: ƒƒ The system for reporting in when late/ absent ƒƒ Events that will lead to discipline ƒƒ The recording of related data and its use ƒƒ Statutory sick pay or your own stated benefits ƒƒ Procedure for dental and medical appointments. Security A particularly sensitive clause is the “right to search staff” but if you face an internal theft problem and you do not have this in the contract you cannot act without written agreement. Explain where, when and how a search may take place and that two appointed

“Employment law always errs on the side of the employee and it is no longer possible to act in many situations unless the contract of employment specifically permits it.” Stuart Jackson

representatives of the company will conduct the search. The employee will be provided the opportunity to be accompanied and the search witnessed by the physically nearest available member of staff. I would suggest that any employee who is found to be in possession of any cash, article or product not belonging to them nor loaned with the express written permission of the company should be deemed to be in breach of contract and the employee will be subject to the relevant disciplinary procedures. Theft as breach of contract is as old as employment itself, but now we come to more recent considerations relating to your staff. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND CONFIDENTIALITY Due to the ever increasing influence of content being created for the web and the use of expensively gleaned consumer data I would seriously consider adding the two clauses raised below. “Intellectual Property” is a grey area so eliminate chance and enter a clause to protect all creative works created by your staff while in paid employment with you. Gain assignment of all intellectual property and copyright from the employee to the company via the contract. Depending on the size and nature of your business it may also be prudent to include a confidentiality statement that is in place during and after employment ends. We will continue with the contract of employment in the next issue and deal with the “dangerous” subject of how to handle discipline. *Note: Employment Law is a specialist subject and the information contained in this series of articles is for guidance only and to provoke careful and responsible consideration. It is not a full representation of any aspect of employment or contract law. Always seek the advice of an employment law professional.

For previous articles on this subject, visit ©Stuart Jackson 2012


MARY PORTAS, ARE YOU LISTENING? Gary Trickett, co-owner of Healthy Route which has stores in Leicester and Nottingham, discusses ordering, margin and unrealistic overheads.


herever possible, we purchase products via our chosen wholesaler, The Health Store (THS). We do this because, as THS was in the past a "Buying Group" and dealt exclusively with independent stores like ours, we felt it was the type of business we should work with. Although THS has now relaxed its rules, we continue to put as much business with THS to maximise our discount. We do not dilute our purchases with other wholesalers as this dilutes our profit. I know other retailers have two, three or four wholesalers delivering to them but if we can't source a product quickly and simply via THS, we don't stock it. We would run a similar system if we traded with any other wholesaler. We are lucky enough to get two orders each week from THS and with the use of an EPOS system, we order efficiently. When we first installed the EPOS system, by week 12 it had reduced our stock holding by £7000, freeing up cash and reducing stock. Most of our supplements (VMS) are directly ordered via the manufacturers. We have negotiated, where we can, set discounts with these direct suppliers. So with this in mind, we look at the POR we get on a product and the discount we get on top, and this has meant that we have increased our gross profit every year for the last five years. So if a food line does not give us a 25% POR we will not stock it, or we will increase our retail price to give us the margin we require. Supplements MUST give us 35% plus discount! For example, we only sell one brand of Glucosamine. At one point we had six different 1500mg from six different suppliers. We cut this down to one basic 1000mg and 1500mg and have one vegan option too. By using our EPOS system we have given our commodity suppliers an estimate of the total number of products we expect to sell in a set period of time and the price we have achieved reflects this working partnership. When margin is eaten away As another example of the cost of servicing our customers, consider the case of the chaia


seeds. We had an order for a 25kg bag – that’s a £180 sale, great! Unfortunately the bag was missed off the wholesaler's delivery and I ended up going to pick up the order. Once my time and fuel was costed in, we made about £14 – and then the customer wanted a discount! Sometimes we spend too much time trying to go the extra mile for customers. We

now cost in an extra percentage to cover this, thus ensuring we make a decent living out of every sale we make. We live by the phrase Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity. Every sale is important, but at what cost? Another example was a recent potential sale of Solgar BCAA. A customer wanted three bottles but wanted them at £10 each. I


like the idea of a £30 sale going through the till but our margin would have been very low on the sale. In the end we lost the sale but managed, by the end on the day, to sell the three bottles at full RRP. So we put an extra £12 in the till and made full POR for that product three times over.      Sales per square metre Both our stores have traditionally sold a wide selection of homebrew products. We had a gut feeling that sales were drifting and our homebrew wholesaler is not helpful at all. We used a report from the EPOS system to work out our POR (around 20%) and compare two sales periods. As we felt, sales were down and as a section it returns our lowest POR by far. So we then looked at all the departments we have in the store and compared the sales by POR by number of metres of shelf space. Luckily, my business partner Caroline is an accountant by profession, and using an Excel spreadsheet we worked out the profit per metre per week for each department. It threw out some really interesting facts! Supplements give us the best profit per metre per week. But our second best department was toothpastes! Why? They sell

“We live by the phrase Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity. Every sale is important, but at what cost?” Gary Trickett

well but we only have a two metre section! Third was aromatherapy oils – it’s a four metre section of Absolute Aroma products and again, because the range is small and compact, it yields a decent profit per metre per week. Conversely (and as we expected) our homebrew is by far our weakest section, giving us a scarily low £1.10 profit per metre per week. We have now cleared the homebrew section from one store and once sold through, it will be cleared from our other store too. Other factors… like VAT on sports drinks We have owned the business now for just over five years and in that time VAT has gone from 17.5% to 15% to 17.5% to 20%. Originally we used to compare our sales against the previous year, but it became so difficult to

make a like-for-like judgement that we now use only "net" of VAT figures. This makes things far more realistic. And the additional burden of VAT on sports protein products mean we lose another 20% of our sports protein sales as the 20% is VAT and therefore goes to the Government. As we said to our Leicester MP, Jon Ashworth, it seems crazy that in an Olympic year and with a growing obesity problem that consumers will be forced to pay more for products that do far more to improve health than a VAT-free Mars Bar milkshake!    Is there a tipping point?  At the end of the day, we are in business to make a living. We love the fact it's in such a caring and compassionate industry as ours, but it is pointless working the hours we work if we don't cover our costs. Recently, we had to make the difficult decision to close our smallest and weakest store. The lease was about to expire and although we had had a number of conversations with the landlord, little help was offered to allow us to continue trading. The town we were trading in with this third store also had another independent health store, and to be honest the population and demographics were too weak to support two stores.

Once we costed in staff costs as well as covering our costs, overall there was virtually no profit. It was a sad but straightforward decision to make. We had spent four years attempting to increase sales but they never really appeared. I believe the remaining store in town is now trading more securely and we now have time to concentrate on our two other stores. We are looking to open another store now but to date we have not found the right unit in the right location. We need landlords and their agents to offer more realistic rents. We also need councils to reduce their rates to a level that makes opening a new store more attractive. We looked in a local city (near to us) and found a great unit and could (just) afford the rent, but the rates were near 25% higher than the rates in our other stores. Mary Portas are you listening? I have always worked on the basis that independent health stores are now "destination stores". Our customer base is over a much greater area than 10-20 years ago – people will travel for specialist products and services – but of course they also have much more choice. The search for the right location, realistic overheads and most importantly the right POR goes on!    BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 29

From the top

Don’t Let ConsuMeRs Be DuPeD graeme hume, Managing Director of Pravera, supplier of Lavera skincare products, says consumers want to trust you so help them do just that.


re the sales of natural and organic skincare products growing in the Health Food sector? Having experienced a 16% growth with our Lavera brand in the past year I spent some time analysing the possible reasons, including visits to our retail customers. The need to survive during this period of falling sales in the food sector drives new initiatives. The downturn has highlighted the point that profit from physical sales needs to be improved and by increasing higher value products, such as natural and organic  skincare, turnover and profit can be improved. Many consumers realise they have been duped by mainstream brand advertising. They

“ media needs to be embraced within this industry because its impact is disproportionate to the input.” Graeme Hume

are increasingly seeking out genuine natural and organic skincare products. So why do certification bodies allow just one product to be certified and then allow the brand to use this to imply that it is organic? Would it not be fairer and more ethical to insist “you may only use our symbol in advertising if over 75% of your products are certified”?   The Health Food sector, managers and owners alike, need to police and where possible sift out the pseudo natural and organic products.  Of course there does need to be compromise. Even we at Pravera sell a small 30 BETTER RETailiNG MaGaZiNE

number of products that are not certified, but I do personally visit the factories and understand (well try to!) the reasons for nonconformity. I’d like to think that the days of the fast talking sales representatives with “here today gone tomorrow” brands are over, but sadly not. Fortunately there is still considerable trust in the local Health Food store. It is this opportunity grasped that will grow the sales for the independent. Consumers need provenance, integrity and trust in the brand they purchase. Therefore the brand needs to be transparent. There is a steady stream of new brands that are sold onto shelves and then sit there, or the company ceases trading. As with foods and supplements, owners and managers are the guardians of their customers’ buying habits and they need to keep the consumer’s trust. How can the retailer be confident in the integrity of their offering? I would suggest four specific questions: ƒ Are all ingredients declared? ƒ Is there any certification and is it genuine (i.e. not self designed)? ƒ Is the supplier reputable? ƒ And would you personally use and recommend the product?  We are finding renewed strength from the Health Food sector which is now seeking out the brands of repute and products that their consumers recognise. Our healthy growth has come from a rethink of the marketing for our brands – the recession has driven us in new directions whether by boldly offering retailers Sale or Return packages with no risk, or a gift with purchase. There is no better recommendation than word of mouth but advertising, PR and social media are keys to faster sales and quicker recognition of a brand. Whether we like it

or not, use it or not, social media needs to be embraced within this industry because its impact is disproportionate to the input. We know that consumers need to recognise brands, believe in the brand and be offered value for money. Once in the store, merchandising of products with clean testers draws the customer to test the product. Other point of sale materials or promotions (e.g. gift with purchase) draws the consumers’ attention – my view is that discounting does not increase sales in the long term – and once we have that attention, added value may seal the sale, or the clarity of packaging or a symbol of integrity. Our job is to get them in your store looking and asking for our brands.  I visit as many stores as I can, from the mediocre to the inspiring, and the one thing that niggles me is the way unworthy products have  taken their place on shelves – either too many brands, too many duplicated products or conversely just a couple of brands dominating the category. With a multitude of packaging colours, designs and fonts it is not always easy for the consumer to distinguish their favourite or quickly read the information on the pack. The brand that stands out is the one merchandised together, and our experience with retailers is that the recognised brand will increase its sales as consumers become familiar with your location and the associated, trusted products.

Graeme Hume can be contacted on 01557 870 203, email, web


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What’sforhot... your s tore COLOUR & CARE

NATURTINT is the renowned brand of less chemical home hair colorants, consisting of 30 Naturtint Permanent shades free from Ammonia, Resorcinol & Parabens and 6 Naturtint Reflex Non-Permanent shades free from PPD & Peroxide. Fantastic after-care products are also available and enriched with approved and certified organic and natural ingredients. Phone: 0845 601 8129 Email:

Bee Prepared Award winning Bee Prepared immune support combines bee propolis, elderberry, olive leaf and more, and is great for colds and ‘flu, travel, exams, and to maintain wellness during sports and fitness regimes. Visit the website for press and testimonials and see why Bee Prepared is a must have for your shelves. Available through TOL, CLF, Health Store & Irish wholesalers, Tel: 0207 993 2471,

Healthy pasta With only 5g of digestible carbs per 56g serving and 65% lower glycemic index than regular pasta, Dreamfields pasta helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It contains inulin, a natural prebiotic fibre, to help balance energy and improve digestive health. Made with durum wheat semolina for great taste and texture. Available from Tree of Life and The Health Store. Food Sellers 01733 370900,

Premium Performax Higher Nature’s new Performax® Sports is a range of premium, but competitively priced, foods and supplements suitable for all individuals partaking in any form of exercise. All the products taste delicious, are dairy free, gluten free and free from artificial colours, flavourings and sweeteners and come in handy on-the-go packaging. Tel: 0808 178 8614, Email:,

Great Taste winners! Six Ogilvy’s Honey varieties have won Great Taste Awards in 2011 and 2012. These rare and artisan honeys offer high quality, exceptional taste, provenance and traceability. Distinctive characteristics and flavour intensities range from mild to strong in wildcraft, blossom and forest honeys from the Himalayas, the Zambezi Plains, the Balkans and New Zealand. Up to 10% off orders during September. Tel: 01780 4503777 Email: 32 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE

Gourmet without gluten Whether for health or lifestyle, over a third of us plan to cut gluten from our diets over the coming year and Freedom Deli’s award winning, 100% natural range of handmade, delicious and free from ready meals and pastries can satisfy that customer group. The unique new filled Panini fills the most frustrating gap, eating on the go! T: 01200 545010


IBS success Multi strain, gluten free, non-dairy probiotic drink Symprove has shown significant improvements in symptom severity for people with IBS in groundbreaking clinical trial results. Its Unique Delivery System (UDS™) helps the naturally occurring live and activated bacteria to survive the volatile pH conditions of the digestive tract, enabling colonisation quickly. Tel: 01252 411789, email, web or

New from Xynergy Sapphire Health Blueberry Shots a highly concentrated Blueberry and Cherry Juice drink enriched with botanical extracts including Elderberry, Ginger Root, Olive Leaf and Turmeric, a combination of well-recognised antioxidant and antiinflammatory ingredients that may support cardiovascular and joint health. Blueberry Shots is 31% Blueberry, far higher than some other antioxidant drinks. Tel: 01730 813642 Email:

Little Miracles Little Miracles combine a twist of nature’s ancient, powerful wisdom and modern, intrinsic knowledge of our bodies and minds – using only the very best of natural ingredients to provide a hydrating, energising boost for today’s hectic lifestyle and tomorrow’s wellbeing. Also available in Green Tea with Pomegranate and Black Tea with Peach. RRP £1.59. Contact:

Good Night to snoring The Good Night Anti-Snoring Ring uses ancient Chinese acu-pressure therapy to help people to stop snoring. Placed on the little finger at night, two acu-activators work to free up breathing passages and natural biorhythms. RRP 29.99 – high profit with low space requirement. E:, Available from Tree of Life

To get your product in front of key industry buyers in our What’s Hot section contact

Tel 01223 894200

Chocolate treat Organic Cacao Powder is a healthy, sweet treat from Creative Nature, rich in magnesium and with 500 times more antioxidants than blueberries. This versatile, natural raw ingredient can be used in baking, desserts and smoothies for a healthy pleasure, not a guilty pleasure. Visit the website to see the full range of superfoods and delicious recipes. Contact 0845 456 3334 BETTER RetailING MAGAZINE 33


How some of our advertisers would like to help you * Store dependent ** Special arrangement *** Future plans Company Product

Page Ref

Consumer In store Samples Staff Window Merchan- Rep leaflets events training displays dising visits


0114 220 2229 Better You Vit D oral spray 11 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 0845 456 3334 Creative Nature Superfoods 33 ✔ ✔ ✔ 01200 545 010 Freedom Deli Ready meals, pastries 32 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Freephone 0808 178 8614 Higher Nature Performax Sports 32 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 0845 680 3968 Intact Nutrition Health drink, Digestion 11 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 0208 903 3431 Kikapu Bakery on Main 13 ✔ * * ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 0845 601 8129 Nature’s Dream Hair treatment 32 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 01780 4503777 Ogilvy’s Artisan honey 32 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 01403 280 860 Pharmacare Bioglan Supplements 21 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ +45 8747 8050 PowerBrands Little Miracles 33 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 19 01442 890355 Solgar VMS ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Back cover 01252 413600 Symprove Probiotics 33 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 01782 567137 Tree of Life Wholesale 36 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ 0207 993 2471 Unbeelievable Immune support 33 ✔ ✔ ✔ *** *** *** Wholebake Healthy snacks 9 ✔ ✔ ✔ * ✔ * * Supplements, 01606 889 905 Wholesale Health 5 ✔ ** ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ oils & sprays 01730 813 642 Xynergy Health shots 33 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔

Useful Contacts for Natural Health Retailers Associations ƒƒ Alliance for Natural Health 01306 646600 ƒƒ Association of Natural Medicine 01376 502762 ƒƒ British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) 08706 061284 ƒƒ British Complementary Medicine Association 0845 345 5977 ƒƒ British Herbal Medicine Association 0845 680 1134 ƒƒ Complementary Medical Association 0845 129 8434 ƒƒ Complementary Therapists Association 0845 202 2941 ƒƒ Consumers for Health Choice 020 7463 0690 ƒƒ Federation of Holistic Therapists 023 8062 4350 ƒƒ Health Food Manufacturers Association 0208 481 7100 ƒƒ Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine 0207 922 7980 ƒƒ Irish Association of Health Stores +353 090 6629981 ƒƒ National Association of Health Stores 01875 341 408 ƒƒ National Institute of Medical Herbalists 01392 426022


Magazines – Business ƒƒ Better Retailing Magazine Editorial: alistair.forrest@ Advertising: 01233 894200 tracey.peat@ Magazines – In-store Consumer ƒƒ Your Healthy Living Number 1 free in-store magazine for health conscious consumers. Order your copies when you make your order to Tree Of Life Quoting 0003. Advertising: 01223 894200 Email: heidi.thoday@jhnproductions. Editorial: Latest issue, see: ƒƒ Rude Health Magazine Consumer magazine for Ireland, in association with IAHS Advertising: 01206 632124 Email: Editorial: liz.parry@ Marketing ƒƒ JHN Productions Publishers of Your Healthy Living and Better Retailing Magazines and event and show organisers. Conferences, events, contract publishing, list rental, e-casts, design and editorial: Contact JHN sales team on 01223 894200. Organic ƒƒ Organic Farmers & Growers 01939 291800 ƒƒ Soil Association 0117 314 5000 Training ƒƒ British Institute of Homeopathy ƒƒ Faculty of Homeopathy 01582 408680 education@

ƒƒ Health Food Institute 0115 9414188 ƒƒ Institute of Natural Healing 0800 781 1715 ƒƒ Institute for Optimum Nutrition 020 8614 7800 ƒƒ National Skills Academy (Retailing) ƒƒ Solgar BTEC Course (browse Solgar Gold Training) Wholesalers ƒƒ CLF Distribution, Southampton, 023 8127 7000 ƒƒ Essential Trading, Bristol, 0845 458 0201 ƒƒ Goodness Foods, Daventry, 01327 871655 ƒƒ GreenCity Wholefoods, Glasgow, 0141 5547633 ƒƒ Infinity Foods, Portslade 01273 424060 ƒƒ Marigold Health Foods, London 020 7388 4515 ƒƒ Mintons Good Food, Llandrindod Wells 01597 824720 ƒƒ Queenswood Natural Foods, Bridgewater, 01278 423440 ƒƒ Rainbow Wholefoods, Norwich, 01603 664066 ƒƒ Suma, Halifax, 01422 313861 ƒƒ The Health Store, Nottingham, 0115 9767 200 ƒƒ Tree of Life, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 01782 567169 

The UK’s No.1 Free in store consumer magazine

Stock Your Healthy Living Magazine and see your in-store product sales increase! Give your customers added value to increase footfall and loyalty to your shop! To receive your free copies of Your Healthy Living simply quote No. 0003 when placing your next order with Tree of Life. (1 x 0003 order code = one bundle of 50 magazines) CELEBRITY . HEALTH . LOOK . FOOD . EXPERT ADVICE

Our range of exclusive brands just keeps on growing!

Tree of Life - the natural choice! • Extensive range of premium natural health products • Monthly New Products & Promotions Brochure

• In-store advertising & sampling • Regular special promotions • 20 Exclusive Brands • Dedicated Territory Managers

To set up or discuss your account, call our Customer Services Team on 01782 567121. Email:

Tree of Life are a Soil Association Registered Wholesaler* *selected lines only




Tree Time is Free Time with these amazing offers…

Those headline deals are too good to miss, but  For a start, Tree Time is free there are many other reasons to enjoy the day  As you’d expect from the UK’s leading health food wholesaler, to the full while doing business with the 120+ suppliers who’ll be there. Such as: the breakfast (until 11.30am) and lunch (until 2pm) is free  Up to 1,500 supplier deals  Travel there free – every store with an account will receive  Up to £100 RSP Goody Bag (one per store)  Registered childcare facilities a £50 fuel card on arrival, so why not share a car with your  All day fun events for the kids staff and get there free?  Weleda pamper zone  Lots of prizes to be won  The Gala Dinner is free for the first 50 retailers to confirm HOW TO FINDzone US..  Exclusives their attendance, and  And the chance to mix with other retailers and your Tree of Life team.  Accommodation is free as well to those first 50 retailers!

Directions from M6 North

Tree O’Clock WHERE Tree of Life head office, Coaldale Road, Lymedale Business Park, Newcastleunder-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 9QX

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Exit M6 at junction 16 Take A500 towards Stoke-on-Trent A500 Take 2nd exit sign posted A34 Newcastle Straight over at two roundabouts Then at 2nd set of traffic lights turn right into Brymbo Rd A34 Straight over the roundabout Take 1st left at TK Maxx into Coaldale Road Tree of Life is at the end on the left hand side





WHEN Sunday, September 23, 10am - 4pm

Directions from M6 South GALA DINNER The Tree Time annual Gala Dinner on the eve of the show takes place at1. Exit M6 at junction 15 NEWCASTLECrewe Hall, a spectacular stately home in the Cheshire countryside. The first 50 retailers2. Take A500 towards Stoke on Trent UNDER-LYME 3. Take 2nd exit sign posted A34 Newcastle M6 towards M6 North to confirm their Tree Time attendance will not only be wined and dined in magnificent 4. Through 5 roundabouts splendour, they will also receive free B+B accommodation for the Saturday night. 5. At first set of traffic lights turn left into Brymbo Road 6. Straight over the roundabout 7. Take 1st left at TK Maxx into Coaldale Road 8. Tree of Life is at the end on the left hand side

How to get there


M6 A500 A34


Direc Di rectio tions ns from rom M6 No Nort rth rt A500

Ex M6 at junct Exit nctiion 15 5 TTake r s Stoke on Tr Tren rent ake A500 towa ard Take 2nd exitt si Take sign gn po possted A34 Newcastle roundabo t toward r s M6 Nort rh Thrrro Th ough gh 5 ro ndabouts ts rd rt R d At firs firstt set of tra r ffic lights ra ght turn leftftf into Brymbo Roa ghts Stra St r ight over the ro ra r undabout T 1st leftftf at TK Maxx into Coaldale Roa Take R d Tree Tr ree of Life if is at the end on the leftftf hand side ife




















Direc Di rectio rec tions tio ns from rom M6 So Sou uth






1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.








Ex M6 at ju Exit junct nction on 16 6 TTake ake A500 to tow ward rds Stokerd Stoke-on on-T -Tr -T Tren rent Take 2nd ex Take exit sign gn po posted ted A34 Ne New wcastlle Stra raight ra ght ovver at tw two rro oundabo ndabouts ts ts Then at 2nd set of trra rafficc light ght tur ghts urn right ght into nto Brymbo mbo Rd R Strra St raight ght over the rro oundabo ndabou ndabo ut TTake ake 1st leftftft at TK Maxx into nto Coa oallda oa dalle Roa Road Tree Tr ree of Life ife is at the end on the leftftft hand si ife sid de


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.



A500 A34



Coaldale Roa Newcastle-under

Andy Derbyshire 01782 567162 BETTER RETAILING MAGAZINE




This distance learning course is divided


first natio nally accredite d BTEC qualificati on.

Designed specifically for those

into 5 units comprising 10 modules;

working within the health food

each module being accompanied

industry who wish to improve

by a workbook, which is completed

their knowledge in the area of

and submitted for marking.

nutrition and health.

Provides comprehensive information

The course is accompanied

on nutrition, diet, anatomy and

by an anatomy and physiology

physiology in health and disease,

textbook. In addition, you will

plus an introduction to nutritional

also have access to a tutor,

and herbal medicine, in an

either by email or telephone,

easy-to-read format.

who will be there to support you throughout the course.


Gaining the Level 3 btec Advanced Certificate in Nutrition, The Body and Supplementary Health shows a real commitment to education within the natural products industry, resulting in a great sense of pride, personal achievement and an internationally recognised qualification. Alex Kirchin, TECHNICAL



excellence begins with knowledge solgar is a registered trademark

Better Retailing Magazine Autumn 2012  

Better Retailing Magazine Autumn 2012

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