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Releasing the potential of a large farm shop


The retail unit is part of a large farming concern producing vegetables for supermarkets. In one large steel-framed agricultural building there was a farm/food shop, pet food shop, country clothing and equine requisites. The retail business had been trading for over a decade and was underperforming given its size and location on a busy road linking heavily populated areas. Its Board had decided that the addition of a café had the potential to bring new life to the site. Before making any investments, however, RNUK was asked to produce a feasibility study examining the potential costs, time frames and return on investment.

What we did

It was clear that the site was not realising its potential with a confused offer and no clear branding. RNUK employed its Retail HealthCheck research tool to establish a detailed profile of existing customers, their usage of the outlet and opinions about change. This was done in-store electronically over a two week period so that all responses could be cross-tabulated. The demographic profiles generated were used to identify hot-spots of similar customer types within defined drive-times - and then create a means of recruiting them as customers. In addition, passing traffic and traffic turning into the site was assessed over a two week period. A rich data-set was created to inform improvements.


The Retail HealthCheck analysis revealed that the business was currently under-performing, realising only about 50% of its potential. The café emerged as highly desirable, but only if correctly designed in terms of its demographic appeal.

A basis for investment was required from the feasibility study, covering financial implications and returns over a period of three years. The feasibility study examined restructuring the retail on the site and adding a café, properly managed and staffed producing some foods from scratch. RNUK carefully designed the café to have 80 covers with kitchens, stores and toilets. RNUK also reviewed the rest of the retail on the site with recommendations for rearranging all other departments to optimise customer flow. Further, RNUK recommended that some departments were moved on-line for click & collect for those customers whose only use of the outlet was for these items.

New fascia panels and branding were introduced for roadside impact. RNUK designed the café to make the best use of window and outside space to produce a relaxed ambience with a country feel. RNUK even produced the cutting plans for the farm’s own local contractors to make bespoke servery and storage units. RNUK recommended a design & colour palette which was followed very effectively to appeal to the target market and be consistent across the site.
The café has proved very popular and has introduced a new type of customer to the site, who is shopping for a wider range of foods and products. Turnover for the site doubled in six months and is still on an upwards trajectory

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