The message at this month’s Budgens retailer conference was that the key to success lay in delivering brand basics and building a culture of customer service. Retailers were joined by management from Musgrave for the event in London on May 8, which the company said was packed with sessions to help retailers improve their operations, develop their businesses and grow profits. In her first year as chair of the Budgens national retailer council,

Susie Hawkins highlighted the major milestone reached in Budgens’ history and urged her fellow retailers to work together in order to grow together. She said: “Today is quite a day for all of us, as this is the first conference where all the Budgens retailers own their own businesses and are working in partnership with Musgrave.”

It was also Phil Smith’s first Budgens conference as managing director of Musgrave Retail Partners GB. He confirmed that 2007 was clearly a challenging year, but not without its achievements. He added: “The main achievement was in making the transition to ownership by entrepreneurial food retailers working within their communities.

“Against a background of increased competition, a Budgens brand that is different and better can thrive. Budgens is now a community of committed, independent, local, entrepreneurial retailers, which can really capitalise on consumer trends. But we must work together to become a relevant, distinctive and consistent brand. And this is where our Musgrave Group parentage comes in. Being part of Musgrave makes us uniquely placed to help Budgens retailers to create that future.

“Our focus will be on delivering the brand basics and building a culture of customer service. This is only another way of saying we will be making things simpler for retailers and better for shoppers.”

For 2008, the company said Musgrave Retail Partners GB would be focusing on:

• Availability

• Price

• Value perception

• Effective promotions

• Growth in focus categories of alcohol, bakery, food-to-go, fresh produce, meat and deli

• Communication to retailers

• Refits

• Support and training for retailers

• Customer service culture

It is also planning a new recruitment essentials training guide – recruiting for your brand – which will be available for all Budgens retailers from mid May. This follows successful trials with three Budgens retailers. A new training and development guide for retailers is also being launched.

Meanwhile, a full range of value lines is to be launched by end of August, along with a new sandwich range and Budgens bakery range.