If you’re looking for inspiration to pep up your business, then the National Convenience Show (NCS) 2016 is the place for you. From Monday April 18 to Wednesday April 20, halls at Birmingham NEC will be packed with exhibitors showcasing products and services that can help make a convenience business a success.

Exhibitors include Bernard Matthews, Bobbys Foods, Booker Cash & Carry, Butchers Pet Care, Christie & Co, Costco Wholesale, Expresso Plus, Friesland Campina, General Mills (Haagen-Dazs and Nature Valley), Ginsters, Golden Casket (£OnePounders sweets), Hall & Woodhouse, HTEC, Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs, Multicig, Nestlé, Popchips, Propercorn, Rollover hot dogs, Subway and many more.

Profit Pod

If you’re thinking about investing in your food-to-go offer then you need to stop at the Adande stand (H51). That’s because, in a joint venture, Adande and Gamble Retail Solutions supplied a hot foodservice Profit Pod to HKS Retail’s forecourt store in Leicester, and staff on the stand can tell you all about it.

HKS Retail wanted a freshly prepared hot food offer but didn’t want one that required major investment in equipment or took up too much floor space.

The result at the Leicester site is a foodservice area that occupies only a 3 x 2.5m footprint and represents an investment of less than £18,000, including ancillary foodservice equipment, hot drink machines and shop fitting.

The Profit Pod comprises a Gamble Ovention Matchbox 1313 oven, mounted on an Adande two-drawer refrigerator. With a footprint of just 1100mm wide by 700mm deep, the unit provides a compact and complete solution for the storage, cooking and service of hot food-to-go.

Shane Thakrar, sales director, HKS Retail, says: "The simplicity of the Profit Pod also offers significant advantages for our business, as unskilled operators may be trained in two hours, eliminating the need for experienced foodservice professionals. We have been very pleased with the success of the initiative at our Leicester site and have plans to roll out the concept at suitable outlets across our estate."

Parcel solution

Another stand definitely worth a visit is Parcelly (K09), a relatively new parcel collection service which works via an app. It started in London but has spread further afield and the company is particularly keen to sign up forecourts.

Its service is described as offering a "fully flexible solution to solve the last mile delivery problem by converting any local business into a parcel collection point". As it’s smartphone based, the company says the service is easy to set up and operate, allowing online shoppers to collect their purchases when and where they want.

After downloading the app, the consumer simply enters the delivery address of their chosen Parcelly location when shopping online. Their parcel is then sent to the Parcelly location using a secure reference code (Parcelly ID).

Parcelly says there are zero implementation costs for businesses wanting to become a collection point,but retailers can benefit from increased footfall and an additional revenue stream via Parcelly’s per-parcel commission system.

Parcelly has extended its offering to numerous petrol forecourts in Greater London, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities in the UK.

Sebastian Steinhauser, CEO of Parcelly, says: "We believe it is a fantastic proposition for online shoppers to offer parcel collection at petrol forecourts nationwide.

"The extended opening hours and the high geographic accessibility, fit in perfectly with our focus on consumer convenience."

Ones to watch

Leading UK food and drink wholesaler Booker is returning to the NCS this April with a range of new and exciting retail brands and opportunities for visitors including the recently-acquired Budgens and Londis. The wholesale giant’s presence gives visitors a great opportunity to meet with senior contacts from across the Booker business.

General Mills is also back this year showcasing a range of products across the Nature Valley cereal bar and Haagen-Dazs ice cream brands.

Dairy and chilled drink supplier Friesland Campina will be showing off its Yazoo flavoured milk and Optiwell yogurt drink (pictured left). Retailers will have the opportunity to sample the products while speaking to the experts about how to manage the milk drinks category.

Show features

Back by popular demand at NCS is the Retailer Hub feature, run in association with Forecourt Trader’s sister title, Convenience Store magazine.

Bringing together a selection of leading suppliers, retailers and industry experts, visitors to the Hub will get to hear about the latest consumer trends and get advice on how to stay ahead of the game.

The Hub will combine shopper insight with practical demonstrations that show what works for customers, ensuring that every visitor will leave the show with valuable tips that can be converted into profit. It will focus on seven key themes, with coffee and food-to-go and innovative payment technology probably the standout themes of interest to forecourt retailers.

Another key show feature will be the Digital Hub, which aims to help visitors manage their presence on social media and other online platforms. The interactive workshop-style sessions will cover key topics, giving visitors the chance to ask industry experts questions. Sessions will include how to choose the right social media channels for your store and convert engagement into sales; a masterclass on what content should be posted and when; and a session on going beyond social media, discussing other digital platforms such as apps.

New to the show this year is The Great New Idea which will run across NCS and its co-located shows, Food & Drink Expo, Foodex and the Farm Shop & Deli Show. Exhibitors will have the chance to put forward their best innovation and entrants will be whittled down to three through online voting ahead of the event. Judges will then choose a winner during live presentations at the show.

Finally, as well as visiting the exhibitors and sourcing new products, attending the free seminars and gaining new insight, NCS provides you with a great chance to network and make lots of new contacts.

Where and when

NCS 2016 takes place in Hall 8 of the NEC Birmingham from
April 18-20.
Opening times are:
Monday April 18, 10-5pm; Tuesday April 19, 10-5pm; and Wednesday April 20, 10-4pm.
To register for free and to get entry into all co-located shows, visit: www.nationalconvenienceshow.co.uk/