How single sites can be their best

As I journey around the industry, I am fascinated by who is successful and who is not. In particular, I love to see the success that single sites can have. My sister and her husband run a very successful single site near York (The Alice Hawthorn for those who know it – John is an amazing chef!) I was even more surprised when my sister said that she enjoyed reading my articles – and not just because she never compliments me! It is true that some people are just great single site operators – they have their own procedures and routines, and for the most part, tend to stick to them.  

I have recently been talking to another single site operator quite close to me in Harrogate. They have no wish to be a multiple, either because they earn enough money, or are settled in how their lives work, hopefully it is both. As I observe single sites though, I find that their biggest challenge is how they avoid getting set in their ways, and how they seek out best practice.  

Reading, attending conferences, and having a good network of similar local business is important, and should never be underestimated. So is using suppliers and even the ‘dirty’ word, consultants. Some of the above are free, and some cost money, whether that is time away from the business, or the cost of employing someone else. 

The hard bit when you are a single site operator is challenging yourself to get better, to try and change, and try things that might not work. The danger is that slowly but surely you become less competitive and less profitable until it is too late and the cash to be brave has run out. And, sometimes, this should also happen right at the start of your journey.  

I am constantly frustrated by newcomers to the industry who listen too much to their head chef, and run a menu and a cost structure that doesn’t work! These are probably two of the biggest risks for single site operators: going into a business with some key skill gaps and relying on the wrong people, and then having a successful business and not initiating enough change. 

We want to help operators recognise where their operations may need to be adapted and show them the best ways to enact these adjustments. This is why we decided to launch an operational excellence programme on labour management for single sites. We are also keen to help facilitate more programmes on the subject matters that we are not experts in, because we understand the value of shared knowledge. We are constantly learning new ways to help operators to be their best and plan to continue doing so.  

I really hope that we can help a nation of single site operators become better and better. 

Bestway Retail partners with S4labour

Leading rota, people and payroll supplier, S4labour has announced its partnership with Bestway Retail Limited.  

S4labour are now the preferred supplier to Bestway, which is comprised of over 3000 stores across the U.K. Operating under three fascia groups – Costcutter, Best-one and Bargain Booze, all Bestway stores will benefit from the labour and cost management tools, designed to save them time and money.  

Leanne Matthews, Head of Central Operations at Bestway Retail, commented: “Bestway is excited to announce this partnership with S4labour. We are always striving for our retailers and forecourt operators to save more money and grow profits, and S4labour provides the tools needed to do just that.”  

The end-to-end software streamlines all labour-related processes, providing retailers and forecourt operators with the right tools to optimise scheduling, timekeeping, and payroll. 

Garry Craft, Managing Director of Retail at S4labour, commented: “This partnership with Bestway is a great milestone for S4labour. We are really be pleased to be the recommended software for thousands of retailers, helping them to manage all of their labour-related processes in a way that saves them time and helps them to grow sales. We have great momentum in the industry right now, with our Nisa strategic partnership last September, and now this. We are really proud to be working with the best in the industry.”  

S4labour will be at the Bestway Retail Expo on Wednesday 15th May in Coventry. They can be found in the innovation area, ready to meet and discuss any questions regarding their time and money-saving tools.  

James Legget, Operations Manager at Zola Ltd, commented: “The tools S4labour provide have helped us save 15 hours per store, per week in our staffing hours, and allowed us to accurately manage holiday and sick pay. As a result, we have already seen the payback from using the system.”  

“The real advantage of having S4labour is it just takes care of everything – from staff rotas to the payroll systems. The investment into S4labour was well worth it because it saves me a lot of time and makes it all more accurate as well because people can see on a day-to-day basis what hours they’ve worked; what their holiday entitlement is – everyone just knows where they are.”  – Peter Patel, Costcutter Retailer

April sales fall 12.9% year-on-year 

Like-for-like sales were down 12.9% in April compared to the same month last year, the latest data from S4labour reveals. 

Outside of London, sites saw a drop of 15.9%, whilst the capital saw a very slight uplift of 0.7% year-on-year. Across the country, dry-led venues saw a decline of 10.4% and wet-led sites witnessed a marginally larger decrease of 17.8% in comparison to last year. 

For the months of March and April combined, year-on-year data showed that overall sales were down 1.9% in 2024, compared to the same two months in 2023. For the same periods, London sales were up 2.7% in 2024, but down 3% outside of the capital.  

Chief Growth Officer at S4labour, Richard Hartley, commented: “With Easter falling earlier than usual this year at the end of March, last month’s sales were up by 11.6% compared to 2023. As expected, this meant that April’s like-for-likes would appear lower this year, hence the drop.”  

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