Spar village store celebrates record-breaking hot food-to-go sales

In part, thanks to Fri-Jado's MD Essential

Founded in 1937, Spar Minster Lovell remains a family owned and run business to this day. Located in a quaint Oxfordshire village, right on the edge of the Cotswolds, the store is now run by the third generation of the family and is seen by many customers as being the heart of village life.

Focusing on quality and convenience, the store has recently undergone a complete refurbishment. Ian Lewis runs the family business, alongside his father, mother and sister. Discussing the store and its offering, Ian starts by saying:

“The store has spent more than 85 years as a focal point of the village community in Minster Lovell. Focusing on quality food and drink, competitive pricing and delivering convenience, our offering includes fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, treats and snacks and an in-store bakery. Early in 2022, we took an opportunity to refurbish the 1800sqft store, at which time we transitioned to the new ‘Spar Market’ model. This project gave us an opportunity to revisit our offering, tailoring it to suit our customer demands and their high expectations.”

One of the areas that Ian and his family were keen to focus on as part of the refurbishment was their hot food-to-go. Working in conjunction with their wholesale partners, AF Blakemore and Country Choice, Ian implemented plans to increase output and grow sales in this lucrative market. Continuing, Ian states:

“Sales from our previous hot food offering had been reasonably good, with customers enjoying a selection of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner options. We felt we could do much more in this lucrative market though, even located in a small village as we are. To make the most of the demand for hot food-to-go, we knew we’d need the latest display equipment in our store. We spoke with our supply partners at Country Choice but felt that the equipment offered as standard simply wouldn’t withstand our expected capacity. The team from AF Blakemore recommended we speak to Fri-Jado, a manufacturer of hot holding display equipment designed for stores just like ours.”

Ian was presented with plans which were created in collaboration between AF Blakemore and Fri-Jado, complete with display equipment that not only suited his retail store but was also future-proofed to cope with growth in the business. Ian says:

“We were given the plans and we were immediately delighted with the solution from Fri-Jado. We went for an MD-100-5 in-store merchandiser, complete with doors to help reduce our energy consumption. The unit has five shelves, and is 1-metre wide, giving us plenty of space to display our hot food offering. Even the smallest details, such as the handy condiment tray have been thoroughly considered in the design of the unit.”

On the food offering itself, Ian and the family understood the importance of variety, quality and consistency. As such, the offering includes a range of foods to suit the different dayparts and customer expectations. Talking about the hot food offering, Ian comments:

We are proud to serve a range of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Our breakfast cook starts at 3am every day and produces a range of bacon and sausage baps, breakfast sandwiches and pastries. From 10am, our lunch cook takes over, making everything from toasties to pies, pasties, burgers, pizza and even hot dogs. Our customer base is varied, including local villages, school children, business owners and those passing through on their way to parts of the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire.”

Not only was the equipment’s capacity crucial to Ian’s hot food-to-go plans, but it was also vital that the unit could maintain quality to reduce waste and meet customer expectations, while also being energy efficient. On the Fri-Jado unit, Ian goes on to say:

“Customers buy with their eyes and return based on their experience. The ability of a hot holding appliance to effectively display food, while holding it in the best condition and being efficient, is crucial. The Fri-Jado MD-100-5 does just that. Our customers regularly comment on how fresh and flavoursome our hot food is, while the five shelves allow us plenty of room to effectively display a wide range of items. The doors really help us to save energy, reducing heat loss, which in turn, helps to maintain the working conditions across the store. In fact, the unit, in combination with the food offering, has been so successful, that we regularly take more than £4,000 in hot food sales per week – something we’d never manage to achieve before the refurbishment.”

Aside from the equipment itself, Ian and the team at Spar Minster Lovell have been impressed with the ongoing service and support from Fri-Jado. Ian concludes:

Since we installed the unit, we have had no problems at all, something that is a testament to the quality of both the technology and the manufacturing. That being said, I know that should I ever need to speak to Fri-Jado, the team are on hand and able to support us. I would have no hesitation in recommending Fri-Jado to others who are looking for quality, consistent and energy efficient display equipment for their retail setup.”

Article written by: Andrew Taylor C.F.S.P. – Eat PR & Marketing

Want to know more?

Let us contact you!