Expanding brand unveils two more stores in Milton Keynes.
The Welcome group of supermarkets continues to expand at an impressive rate. The organisation recently opened their 60th and 61st stores in Buckinghamshire, with the Welcome brand now operating outlets across 14 counties in the south of England.
These latest two stores in Milton Keynes are owned by the KashGroup whose chief executive Kash Jaffar explained: “I had eight stores under a different brand and was looking for a stronger franchise. My cumulative store sales had dropped, as the support wasn’t there. Our biggest store suffered heavily because of a lack of range and availability.
“But, to be honest, moving to Welcome has been the best thing we have ever done. From opening stores to trading, it has been the full package. It feels like a Rolls Royce package. There is a huge range and I am delighted that we can choose different products from the full Co-op selection. Our customers are extremely happy with what we can offer them now.
“This is a franchise model that we can keep very simple, resulting in more professionalism and we can look to growing our business even more.” The KashGroup started trading in 1994 and currently operate outlets for a number of other high-profile companies. These include Costa Coffee, Regus, Pizza Hut and Subway. These recent unveilings for the Welcome franchise group in Milton Keynes are at Bean Hill and Kents Hill.
At the start of 2020, the total number of Welcome stores was just over 30, but this figure has increased at an amazing rate – despite the pandemic. The company opened a dozen outlets in 2019 and 15 the following year. And it’s not just the number of stores which have increased rapidly. In 2021, Welcome posted a 27% rise in sales. The 60-plus stores, which are a mix of high street, forecourts and village locations, are operated by 28 franchisees.
Mike Fitton, franchise business manager for Welcome’s parent company Southern Co-op, explained: “While Milton Keynes is further north than usual for us, there will now be eight stores grouped in a small geographical area. We are delighted to bring them on board as it means we can still support the franchisee very well without stretching ourselves thinly.
“In these new stores, you can see what a difference it has made being part of a strong brand with ethical values. The stores have each been given a top-to-toe refit, along with the introduction of a greater number of food lines. And all this has been made possible thanks to the Co-op’s own label range. Feedback from customers has been extremely positive.
“We look forward to bringing even more stores on board in the months ahead, to illustrate the power of our franchise brand. And in 2021 we increased our number of field managers, which means there is even more personal support available for our franchisees.”
Southern Co-op’s Welcome franchise gives retailers access to big brands. Franchisees can choose from a selection of recommended store formats which are based on consumer insights. They can also adapt plans using their own entrepreneurial flair, while franchisees are encouraged to source products from local suppliers.
Among the support systems provided by HQ are marketing, sales analysis, electronic shelf edge labels, as well as access to a support desk for 14 hours a day (6am-8pm), seven days a week – plus much, much more.
About Southern Co-op: Is a regional, independent co-operative operating more than 300 food, funeral and Starbucks’ branches across the south of England. They also own the Welcome franchise brand. This large co-operative has a commitment to sustainable business, plus a promise to provide a fair, fresh approach for all. This is achieved through investment in communities, as well as a focus on protecting the environment and its support for local food producers. Owned by more than 135,000 members, it has an annual turnover of £490m.