By Phil Dorrell
Kindly invited to have a gander at the new GHM store on the day prior to opening I was more interested in the position of the group rather than the execution of the single store. Nice to see a new retailer, born from scratch, raise its head above the retail parapet.
Joining its Pepkor stablemate and including 90% of its clothing range, the new GHM (Guess How Much) is a bold venture that could too easily be dismissed. Knowing that it has an incredibly cash rich sugar daddy would suggest on its own that this would be foolish, combine that with the knowledge that this is being directed, managed and staffed with some good retailers further suggests it could be a winner.
It’s clearly no surprise that the GHM HQ is in Leeds and the amount of ex-Asda colleagues in the store is remarkable, I’d suggest that expansion will in time pick up some more of these ex-colleagues. The leadership and strategy seem solid, pragmatic and above all else aware they are on a learning curve. With many of the answers unknown yet, but recognised as such, they are not fooling themselves one bit.
So on to the store. In good old Asda fashion let’s look at Likes, Concerns and Suggestions!
- Branding from the outside looks strong, in bold colourways and the brand-name is catchy with a story behind it.
- Size of footprint (this store c.8,000 sq.ft. ) is very portable to a number of High Streets and shopping park locations. It also reduces the property costs.
- Pricing, they have made some statement prices on grey market lines (25-30% of sku count) but have also undercut the non-food competition in many ongoing ranges.
- They know their customer well (even though they have not really yet got any!) and the attention to their needs is evident in both ranging and pricing.
- Clothing range is as impressive as Pep & Co which is no surprise at its comprised of 90% of the Pep & Co range.
- Health and Beauty is far more authoritative than expected and will be a key sales and margin tool.
- Ample seasonal space allows for flexible merchandising and the lack of mass store product movement as they trade though the seasons.
- Willingness to have a go, see how it works and make changes based on results and feedback is refreshing.
- Systems and back-up logistics borrowed from Pep & Co lend a massive hand to a small chain start-up.
- Lots of people employed who know what they are doing and have worked in similar teams before, they also share some cultural ideals.
- Good pricing and tight fixtures make this a tricky and potentially costly store to replenish. Use of SRP is good, but not consistent and shelf depth and a 48 hour lead time might make availability tough if it takes off.
- Depth of warehouse reserve stock on fashion looks very light. They appear to only have one delivery a week and this might be too few unless they improve fast selling inventory position.
- Some ranges appear to have too much authority (shopping bags) and others too few (SDA’s ). They will need to have a quick range autopsy within the first 4 weeks.
- Navigation and instore price indication is mixed. It goes from expressive to difficult to define price; navigation is not facilitated greatly by signage / beaconing.
- Branding the clothing Pep & Co is right on the product as it reduces cost and gives some reassurance. Having it as a beacon on the wall seems to confuse the brand message of a new start-up.
- The aisle with the least amount of “theatre” was the seasonal aisle, reasons explained but seems a miss for a new venture.
- Continue with the attitude of try it and see, bold, brave and pragmatic.
- Have an improved contingency for stock order, especially on clothing.
- Be bolder on the internal presence of the GHM brand, and improve any areas of poor price indication and navigation.
- Review how productivity can be assisted through merchandising and ease of replenishment.
- Introduce a J-hook and clip-strip programme to enhance sales and margin.
I look forward to seeing it in the next 6 weeks and its slightly larger sister stores in Isle of Sheppey and Kirkstall Leeds. It may not be the re-birth of the High Street but such stores do give a more positive outlook on its health. Good luck, you’ve earned it.