“I very much appreciate receiving a prestigious award from such a high profile organisation as the Enterprise Agency. To be recognised for the efforts put into making a small business into one of innovation and growth within this tight business sector is indeed an honour. At Evenwood News, I was fortunate enough to envisage the economic downturn well in advance and make some optimistic moves to ensure continuity of trade. Hopefully when the economic situation is resolved we will remain in a strong position and take the next step forward with even more confidence”.
Eric has owned Evenwood News for five years and also owns a convenience store opposite. At the time of taking over Evenwood News, the newsagent was finding it difficult to survive in a small village with two other similar shops.
Despite the recession, the newsagents has grown and was recently named as one of the Top 100 independent newsagents in the country by an organisation supported by the National Federation of Retailers and which based the top 100 on continuous mystery shopping activity.
Key to the expansion of the business has been the increase in home delivery of newspapers. Despite the fact newspaper sales have dropped nationally, Eric has now doubled the size of his home delivery area and now delivers within 120 square miles by van. This service has grown through word of mouth recommendation and through marketing initiatives Eric has put in place with newspapers such as The Northern Echo and Daily Mail.
This expansion has not come at the cost of profitability with Eric reporting that he earns 30% net profit on his newspaper deliveries compared to 18% on his grocery. He also delivers grocery items to his newspaper customers if they wish but does not deliver to anyone else to maintain customer loyalty.
A major factor in his growth, Eric believes, is that he recognises areas the nearby supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, excel in and does not try to compete hence the reason he would not roll out a home delivery offer on grocery.
His store stocks traditional newsagent items including cards, confectionary, papers and cigarettes and he used his own cash point which he obtained from the bank. He puts the shop’s own money in this which means it’s free of charge for customers to use and it also saves time consuming journeys to the bank daily to deposit his cash.
His store has seen 10% year on year growth since he has taken over and it is averaging 15% growth this year, largely fuelled by his relationship with the community, service and the wide distribution area drive through newspaper deliveries.