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As reported in Convenience Store magazine, the 2018 accounts (to 31 December) for major symbol group Costcutter show the company's sales fell by 24% to £390m over the twelve months.  This reveals the severe impact caused by the disruption of supply to member stores following the collapse of key supply partner, Palmer & Harvey, in late 2017.

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Award winning 'alternative' symbol group, Simply Fresh, part-owned by Costcutter since 2014, has appointed Tim Chalk as its new chief executive.  Kash Khera co-founder of Simply Fresh, who launched the group with his brother in 2009, will remain as chief operating officer.  The group now includes some 90 stores across Great Britain.

Chalk brings international experience in convenience

Tim Chalk was most recently group commercial director at Dairy Farm International the Jardine Matheson grocery retail chain based in Hong Kong with 2,400 stores across 11 Asian markets.  And his career also includes a five-year tenure as the chief executive of 7-Eleven in Hong Kong and Macau, where he oversaw a network of over 1,000 company-owned and franchised stores.

Commenting on the appointment Kash Khera, Simply Fresh co-founder commented:

'The opportunity ahead for Simply Fresh is vast, but to achieve it we must focus clearly on our objectives, mover faster and continue to transform.  A big part of Tim's job is to refine the strategy and accelerate our ability to quickly bring innovative products and services to our customers.  As chief operating officer I will be in charge of the day-to-day operation of the business, allowing me to get even closer to our retailers.'

Major UK symbol group operator, Costcutter (part Bibby Line Group) has revealed sales down 18.5% to £512m for the year to 31 December 2017.  Store numbers declined to 1,776 at year-end as a result of lost members and exits from unprofitable contracts.  And performance was also impacted by falling service levels from, and the eventual collapse of, its supply partner Palmer & Harvey.

Further losses expected to impact 2018 results

With these figures covering the period up to one month after the collapse of Palmer & Harvey, they do not capture the persisting disruption to Costcutter supply that continued until the 'go live' of the replacement deal with Co-op, which completed in June.  This is likely to have had significant negative impact on Costcutter turnover in the first half of 2018 above all. 

Purchase loyalty fell to 50% post P&H

Speaking to Convenience Store magazine, Costcutter Chief Executive, Darcy Willson-Rymer has revealed that in the aftermath of the collapse of Palmer & Harvey in November 2017, purchasing loyalty of Costcutter retailers fell to 50%.  Without Palmer & Harvey, supply was maintained through interim agreements with 12 other wholesalers, at nil profit to Costcutter.  With the new supply deal with Co-op now in place Costcutter aims to return purchase loyalty to 75-80%.

Commenting on the results John Cresswell, Chief Executive of Bibby Line Group, the Costcutter parent, said:

'We are pleased to report that Costcutter has now closed the chapter on Palmer & Harvey.  We have continued to support the business throughout and are optimistic about the benefits of the new supply deal with Co-op.  The business is now focused on growing sales by delivering the best retail offer in the convenience sector.'

IGD Food-to-Go 2018

8 November 2018, London

Understand how the food-to-go market is evolving, where the opportunities lie and how industry leaders across Europe are leveraging these trends.

Find out more »

Costcutter's new supply deal with Co-op has now been rolled out to all stores in its network, putting an end to over six months of contingency arrangements, in the wake of the collapse of former distribution partner Palmer & Harvey.  The turbulence of the last year saw some 400 stores leave the symbol group, leaving the total number in the network at 1,776 at the end of 2017.  However, it has continued to recruit successfully with some 100 stores joining over recent months.

Co-op private label to be added to ranges

With all Costcutter group retailers now receiving their core supply through the Co-op-owned Nisa supply chain, the next step in the development of the relationship will be the introduction of Co-op private label lines to the Costcutter range.  Over the next 12 weeks some 800 Co-op lines will be made available to Costcutter stores; however retailers will need to satisfy eight specific brand disciplines to qualify for access to these.  These standards will include a maximum price-point and the maintenance of Co-op's own processes with regard to chilled and fresh products.

Costcutter appointed 'master franchisee' for the Co-op brand

As well as offering its own fascia packages to independent retailers, in the future Costcutter will also be able to recruit stores to a full Co-op franchise package, where clear criteria are met.  In an ongoing trial of the Co-op package, Costcutter has converted one of its company-owned stores to the format, producing a sales rise of almost 70%.  Costcutter now plans more trials to test the new model further, before making it available to independent retailers. 

Shopper First programme now in 55 stores

The supply issues experienced in the first half of 2018 have slowed the roll-out of the new 'Shop the way you live' store format, first launched in late 2016.  However, there are now 55 stores operating the format, backed with the full package of demographic insights to optimise all shopper opportunities in their local catchments.  With Costcutter's supply chain issues now resolved progress this will accelerate, and 100 additional stores are currently in the pipeline to implement the programme.

Costcutter at IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018

Sean Russell, Director of Marketing will be sharing more on the insights developed from Costcutter's unique Shopper First programme on 26th September - to find out more click below:


IGD Convenience Retailing Summit 2018


26-27 September, London


Convenience continues to outpace big store formats. This year we have launched a two-day event to help you explore every opportunity, possibility and future trend to boost your business.

Find out more »


Simply Fresh is a symbol group that gives entrepreneurial independent retailers the means to bring a class-leading, on-trend convenience experience to shoppers.

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This in-depth guide to the United Kingdom explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

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We've developed a single, universal methodology for calculating food and consumer goods retail data, supported by our programme of primary and secondary research. This makes Retail Analysis the most reliable and robust source available for data of this type. 

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