Start-ups need to show a clean pair of heels

photo (5)

Please note: very early photo. The shelves are now full.

Making a return visit to the young meat retailer Muddy Boots as it begins to grow-up has thrown some interesting light on the challenges faced by a typical start-up and how important it is to constantly flex the model.

Having initially been a branded supplier to Ocado and Waitrose of meat products the company 15 months ago opened its first ship in North London’s Crouch End. The primary objective was to at the very least match the supermarkets in terms of opening hours (it closes at 10pm) and deliver a premium product.

It has quickly grown to account for over 50% of sales but they have been derived through different ways than expected. The shop includes a large communal table at its centre and the intention was to run the shop as a wine bar in the evenings but the table is now more important as a way to market the shop’s products than sell alcohol.

Bookings for private parties to be held around the table are building up to now be more than a weekly occurrence. The cured meats sold at such events have become particularly popular and Miranda Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots (who has written a book on charcuterie), says it now accounts for 20% of sales. And with double the margin, as well as a longer life, than other meat products, it is proving a real winner.

Preparation has all been done in the back room at the store but very quickly it was realised that to grow the company needed a factory facility. This was secured recently and now – a lot later than initially planned – the company is firmly on the look-out for more stores. These are in what Ballard calls the “villages of London” with Stoke Newington, Highgate, Queens Park, East Sheen, and Muswell Hill high up on the target list.

What she looks for in a location is the existence of retailers Cook, Gail’s Bakery, JoJo Maman Bebe, and Oliver Bonas. (Crouch End has all of them). This is a sign the demographics are right for Muddy Boots. She expects to have the second unit open by February, a further two by July, and a total of 10 trading over the next three years.

The one retailer she doesn’t want to particularly be trading near to is Waitrose. This is not because it sells Muddy Boots products (the one in Crouch End does not as it is too small) but because it is the toughest competitor to independents food retailers.

imgres

Waitrose: top service to small suppliers

“They are the worst for independents to compete against because of their product [quality] and people feel good about shopping with them,” says Ballard, who adds that it was noticeable in foodie town Ludlow that the locals have allowed a Tesco and Aldi to be built but blocked the entry of Waitrose.

However, she is nothing but complimentary towards the supermarket. While the media is full of stories about large retailers imposing ever harsher payment terms on their suppliers she says Waitrose is very much the opposite.

When Muddy Boots was initially classified as a ‘local supplier’ whose goods were stocked in only a very small number of Waitrose stores the payment of invoices was in a mere 16 days. This then went to 21 when it supplied its goods into more Waitrose stores, and now that it supplies into as many as 140 stores it is still paid in a mere 30 days.

“This really helps small businesses. And the accounts team are very efficient, lovely people to deal with,” she says.

The other big change Muddy Boots made in its early days was to shut down its website after it realised that the cost of home delivery was making most orders unprofitable. However, now it has a shop established it recently re-launched online and with it a delivery service via its own van to specific postcodes as well as a click & collect service. The expansion to other areas will be handled in a controlled manner and linked to subsequent store openings.

Watch this space for the next installment…

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

 

Read full story

Hackers could derail retailers’ one-click world

Starbucks’ pay-ahead app is a tremendous innovation that is not only a big hit with customers of the coffee chain but it also featured in second position in the Top 50 table in the recently published Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations 2015 report (sponsored by Webloyalty). It’s one of a number of innovations in this […]

Read full story

Made.com looks to make its multi-channel mark

It is not exactly a small time aspiration to become a pan-European rival to global behemoth IKEA but this is the aim of Made.com as it says it is targeting former customers of the flat-pack and meatball specialist. The raising of £38 million last week will have done its cause no harm at all as […]

Read full story

Disabled Access Day – boosting the ‘purple pound’

Retailers have made great strides in improving disabled access over the past few years but there is still much more that can be done. Thousands of businesses are losing out on revenue by not offering adequate disabled access. The former Minister for Disabled People claimed last year that UK high streets could be overlooking £212 […]

Read full story

Selfridges storms up the table of top 25 UK drinks websites

Selfridges climbs into the top 10 of the table of the Top UK drinks websites in July, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse, which marks a remarkable improvement. It moves up nine places to seventh spot with a score of 4.02 out of 10 compared with 3.20 in June. […]

Read full story

Retailers begin to admit the true cost of click & collect

Avoiding cliches is a major rule in journalism but I’m forgetting that now because the recent decision by John Lewis to impose a £2 charge on click & collect orders just has to be described as throwing the cat among the pigeons. The reality is that for most retailers fulfilling online orders – in a […]

Read full story

Innovative Retailer – Pirch

The Name: Pirch The Place: It’s an American concern with eight showrooms dotted around the big cities. The Story: Who hasn’t seen that really funny joke on social media which goes along the lines of: “Just been to the toilet in B&Q…Mind you not sure the staff liked it – seems they’re not plumbed in.” […]

Read full story

Michael Durbridge, director of omni-channel, B&Q

Michael Durbridge, director of omni-channel, B&Q 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? We’ve the right mix of a large number of stores and ambitions for digital growth. We kicked off our five-year digital plan two years ago and believe the home improvement market is big and made for digital. People research, they […]

Read full story

Retail Insider Wine Event – Jon Rudoe, digital & technology director at Sainsbury’s + Julia Stafford, founder of Wine Pantry

Retail Insider held its latest Event this week – a combined talk by Jon Rudoe, digital & technology director at Sainsbury’s, discussing the challenges and opportunities of multi-channel, and an English Wine Tasting with Julia Stafford, founder of Wine Pantry. Senior executives from John Lewis, Moss Bros, Made.com, and Snow + Rock were among those […]

Read full story

Can we hope for mid-paced fashion?

We’ve all heard of fast fashion but what about slow fashion? It’s an emerging trend that looks to reduce waste through encouraging fewer purchases of clothing, drive greater use of environment-friendly materials, and promote an embracing of ethical sourcing practices. Slow fashion involves a more pedestrian supply chain hence the name. This ultimately means it […]

Read full story

Oddbins stages comeback in table of top 25 UK drinks websites

Oddbins was the most improved drinks retail website in the table of the Top UK drinks websites in June, according to analysis undertaken exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. It moved up 10 places to 11th spot with a score of 3.58 out of 10 compared with 2.32 in May that prompted a […]

Read full story

Even mighty IKEA recognises the winds of change

In only the past couple of months there has been a stream of announcements from IKEA that all contribute to what it has been describing as its ‘transformational agenda’. It announced the opening of its smallest retail location so far – in Canada, it opened a pop-up breakfast-in-bed cafe in East London where beds could […]

Read full story

Digital Wildfire takes hold

Over the years the extent of the digital landscape of retailers has grown like ‘digital wildfire’ and can to some extent be viewed as a real threat to their future capabilities. For retail this presents an emerging and what is becoming a significant problem Retailers must have an understanding of what exactly constitutes their entire […]

Read full story

Innovative Retailer – Argos

The Name: Argos The Place: Oh everywhere. Almost everyone lives within ten miles of an Argos store apparently. The Story: Innovation, you say. Argos, you say. It can’t be done, you say. Actually I haven’t… Well, this column is about to prove to you once and for all that a big company with a catalogue […]

Read full story

Doddle ranked top digital retail innovation 2015

Doddle has been ranked the leading innovation in the second annual ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations’ report 2015 ahead of Starbucks pay ahead app and Waitrose Hiku home scanning solution. The high placing of Doddle reflects the prominence of logistics solutions in this year’s report and highlights how retailers are still grappling with fulfilment and […]

Read full story

Movers & Shakers Q&A – Steve Robinson, CEO, Achica

Steve Robinson, CEO, Achica 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Younger business are fortunate not to have the same constraints as older ones; difficult to exit leases, hard to change cultures, historical pension commitments, expensive to change legacy systems etc. Starting with a clean sheet of paper allows you to be agile, […]

Read full story

Retailers must embrace digital

Far too many retailers are unskilled in the area of digital and this puts them in a sufficiently precarious position as to threaten their very existences. The mindsets of executives at the top of a whole raft of retailers must be changed if their companies are to fully grasp the challenges and opportunities of digital […]

Read full story

Big book catalogues reach final chapter

Even very recently catalogues were seen as integral to the likes of Shop Direct, N. Brown and Argos – with millions of them distributed each year. But the acceleration of online sales has dramatically reduced these retailers’ reliance on paper-based catalogues over the past few years. Such has been the extent of the internet’s impact […]

Read full story

Retail Insider Beer Tasting Event – with Robin Phillips, omni-channel and development director, Boots UK + Paddy Johnson, co-founder, Windsor & Eton Brewery

  Retail Insider has held its latest event – combining a tutored Beer Tasting with Paddy Johnson of Windsor & Eton Brewery and a talk by Robin Phillips, omni-channel and development director at Boots UK – that highlighted both the vibrancy of the UK beer scene and the opportunities for retailers from developing multi-channel propositions. Senior […]

Read full story

Poundland looking for certainty with 99p Stores purchase

There are few certainties in business and the retail sector specifically operates in an environment where there are now ever fewer guarantees. Where once growth was driven by simply adding physical stores, today’s digital world means things are a lot more complicated. What might have been regarded as a rare certainty was a green light […]

Read full story
css.php