- Premises Based
With retail experience of nearly 150 years, we are a large, regional co-operative with an understanding of how important it is for franchisees to have access to award-winning products and still keep their independence.
Southern Co-op is an independent co-operative and we operate more than 200 convenience food stores across the south of England. We also offer franchisees the opportunity to partner under our ‘Welcome’ fascia.
With a commitment to quality over quantity, our dedicated franchise team works with single and multiple store operators across the south from Bristol to Kent and into central London. These include petrol forecourts and stores which range from 1,600 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft.
Our ‘Welcome’ franchise has been running for over a decade and was boosted in 2018 by a new EPOS system as well as a new format look in 2019. By working in partnership with us, franchisees have access to major brands and renowned Co-op own-label products which offer choice, quality, ethical standards and product development. Retailers are also encouraged to explore opportunities to offer locally sourced products, outside of the core ranges, to give their store a truly local point of difference.
All partners benefit from our ‘fair, fresh, for all’ approach to business and our commitment to support our local communities. We also offer strong personalised support which starts as soon as franchisees sign up and continues every day via a dedicated Franchise Operations Manager. This includes access to planograms, training, use of a full EPOS and back office system, marketing, store development, space and sales analysis. They can also get access to tried and tested systems such as self scan checkouts.
Offering a comprehensive support package, franchisees will get full CAD drawings for store development as well as help in choosing a shop fitter and support in getting the store open with the Welcome look and feel.
Initial and ongoing investment in colleague training is crucial. Welcome franchisees’ store teams have access to a full suite of online E-learning training modules such as health and safety, customer care, food handling, data protection, challenge 25 for a small cost per person per year.
Our franchise operations managers are all former store managers and will get involved with shop fitters and all elements of new store opening. Once open all new stores have a 12 week training programme with our franchise operations managers in store at least three days a week.
We look after all the EPOS installation and cover the cost of two data lines plus the ongoing line rental to ensure you always have connectivity. Each franchisee has access to our Operations and EPOS manuals, in addition to our own intranet system that reduces emails.
After 12 weeks, your ongoing franchise operations manager will visit you every four weeks or as required if you have any other requirements. We are also available each weekend and are always there to help you develop your business, sales
A franchisees main daily tasks will be ensuring their customers are given the best service, availability and shopping experience possible. We firmly believe this can only be done by great team work, training and recognition. Our team help with these areas on every visit.
Once the franchisee has these areas covered, this gives him/her time to start looking at local suppliers and products that will help build his/her business further and show their support for the local area. This can be a great point of difference over the large retail chains.
The next stage will be getting involved in the local community. This again is a great point of difference and gives the franchisee the chance to really understand what is important to his/her current and potential customers. We can and do help with all the above. Sometimes you just need someone else to visit who can see the store differently and that’s what we try and do with our franchisees.
“The Welcome franchise has opened so many doors for me. It really helps being in partnership with Southern Co-op - not just with my customers who trust the brand - but also local suppliers as working with them becomes a lot easier.”
“Since changing to Welcome a year ago my year-on-year sales are up by 20% with minimal conversion costs for me, so the decision to transfer my second store to the Welcome fascia was a no brainer. I’ve lowered my retail prices and maintained my % margin and increased my cash profit! My customers love the new offer.”
"Over the last decade, we have seen many changes in the petrol retailing business with most of our sites being redeveloped into larger convenience store formats. Transferring to the Welcome franchise gives us support from the Southern Co-op team and access to all products and promotions available in mainstream Co-op stores. The shift in UK consumer habits from the weekly big shop to more regular small top up convenience store visits has been recognised by all the major hypermarkets. This move allows us to sit more comfortably in this sector with focus on range, ethical values and all at a reasonable price."
“Our customers love the quality and ethical stance of the Co-op and already our fresh food sales are exceeding our expectations. I really liked the support that was offered and the EPOS system really helps me manage my business and stock holding.”