Co-op aims to make stores community hubs

The Co-operative Group believes it can fill the void left by the disappearance of off-licence chains from the high street because it already has a shop in every postcode.

As post offices also vanish, the retailer hopes to make itself the hub of every community – and enjoy a spike in wine sales.

Buyer Ben Cahill said: “A lot of our stores are the heart of the community, because with the death of the Post Office and other local shops we form a part of people’s everyday lives.

“Our eclectic wine range is something we have prided ourselves on for many years and, with the death of many of the famous chains, there aren’t an awful lot of places people can go to find something more unusual.”

Wine category trading manager Simon Cairns added: “There is a dearth of high street specialists when it comes to wine, and I say that as a wine lover and consumer.

“I would like to see more diversity in the high street, and I would like there to be more interesting wines – but with the education that goes with it to encourage people to try them.

“Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a bottle covered in dust.”

The Co-operative has been revamping some of its shops with increased wine ranges, closed-door chillers and new shelf-edge labels that aim to give consumers at-a-glance information about the wines.

A full range review is due in February, and Cairns hopes to become more able to cater specifically for shops in different areas.

“Our opportunity is to become more locally diverse – to be the hub of the community,” he said.

The Co-op currently has 440 lines in its wine range, which it tailors to fit shops depending on the affluence of the area.

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