Southern Co-op's network of franchise stores, comprising independent retailers operating under the Welcome fascia, grew by 12 stores in 2019, taking the total in the group to 34. Recruited from across the south of England, these include stores run by 20 different retailers, with eight sites on fuel forecourts. These stores operate seperately to Southern Co-op's directly managed estate of 234 convenience and supermarkets. See our report on the Welcome store at Southwater here.
Pipeline of further franchise developments
Southern Co-op's franchise division continues to develop new opportunities to expand the franchise network further, and already has number of conversion projects in preparation. These include both newly recruited retailers opening stores and existing franchisees opening additional stores under the Welcome fascia. Target stores for the fascia must be at least 1,600 sq ft in sales area, with potential sales of £20,000/week.
Stores supplied through Co-op distribution network
Welcome franchise stores have full access to the Co-op ranges supplied through the national organisation, including the expanding private label offer, all supported with the national programme of promotions. While the franchise agreement requires that any product to be stocked available in the Co-op range should be purchased through its network, Southern Co-op encourages stores to include products from local suppliers to build their community credentials and create differentiation.
Mike Fitton, Franchise Business Manager, Southern Co-op commented:
'We are proud to have attracted a range of experienced retailers to our co-operative family. As well as being an ethical retailer with community values, we also offer more personalised support which starts as soon as they sign up and continues everyday via our dedicated franchise operations managers.'