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City Market sales spike

City Market has seen a 68%increase in sales over a one-week period ending Wednesday, 15 December as a result of a$1000 a day giveaway promotion in its each of its stores, and a renewed focus on customer satisfaction.

Following a period of inventory shortages, sales at the chain had dropped off significantly, the company’s CEO Mark Finlayson toldGuardian Businesslast week. The promotion was designed to drive people back into the stores so they could see how the retailer had changed.

“We are now on track compared to where we were last year, so the promotion has been a success,”Finlayson said, referring at the time to the 50%overall increase in the Tuesday-to-Tuesday comparative sales figures. When later the Wednesday-on-Wednesday total figures arrived, he corrected himself saying,”We have surpassed last year.”

From Tuesday, 7th December to Tuesday, 14th December, the approximate increases in sales were 100 percent at the Harbor Bay store, the largest store in the chain, 100 percent for East Street South, 80 percent for Rosetta Street, 50 percent for Lyford Cay, 40 percent for Cable Beach, 30 percent for Sea Grapes, 60 percent for Downtown Freeport, 30%for Lucaya and 30%for Eight Mile Rock, according to Finlayson. He added that the Village Road store, which is preparing to close following an agreement with the property’s landlord, saw an increase of around 20%.

The gains in sales were likely not attributable to the holiday shopping season, as those increases are not expected until this week, according to Finlayson.

The positive sales figures come as City Market is preparing to offer twenty-four hour shopping at its Cable Beach, Harbor Bay and East St. South stores, beginning Monday, 20th December. Finlayson said the chain is hoping to provide convenience for its shoppers, in addition to relocating staff from closed stores at Oakes Field and Village Road. The retailer plans to make this extended shopping hours feature permanent.

Safety is the question that comes to mind with 24-hour shopping, and according to the CEO this was a priority for the chain. He said City Market has assembled a group of retired senior police officers to head security, and had seven onboard already. The company plans to have one such officer heading security at each of its stores. City Market has also engaged the services of the police association to add off-duty police to the security detail. Independent security firms are also being employed.

“We are going to be protecting you from the parking lot, all the way through the stores,”Finlayson said.

Finlayson said that in addition to the promotion, his customer”consultants”have been providing valuable feedback to improve the stores. The CEO said he gave his cellular phone number to”at least”50 customers, who have been calling him directly with their concerns. Initially most of the calls were complaints, he said, but he added that it gave the chain the opportunity to fix and follow-up on those problems identified. The input has even resulted in decisions about inventory which have worked out for the customer and the store.

“We had a customer who saw a particular ad for a type of Pringles on TV and wanted to try it,”Finlayson said.”We brought in the whole line of Pringles, and as a result they have been literally flying off the shelves.”

The store has a cadre of compliance officers, managing about two stores each in New Providence and one servicing the three Grand Bahama stores. According to Finlayson, they are charged with building customer relationships and aiming to ensure customer satisfaction. He said that each compliance officer has given his or her phone contact to’countless’people.

Customers coming in will be pleased about the increase in the variety of inventory, a result of increasing stock keeping units(SKU)by 5,500, according to Finlayson. SKUs provide a unique identification for each type of item in inventory. He said the company’s goal is to add another 2500 SKUs next year, which would bring the retailer to levels comparable to a Publix. He added that store managers have had an overwhelming reaction to the containers of inventory coming in.

“A lot of the store managers started out deflated, but you have never seen anything like the response to the trailers and inventory coming into the stores,”Finlayson said.”Everybody realizes it’s one thing to talk, but when you see that inventory, you know you’re back.”

Finlayson said that every member ot the City Market team was pushing 100 percent and he commended them all. He also commended the union representing City Market employees, saying that they were working very well with City Market to revitalize the chain.

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