Bargain Booze's c-store chain expands to 50

Bargain Booze is set to open its 50th Select Convenience store before Christmas, and the chain has seen the number of potential franchisees grow around 40% in the past year.

Joint managing director Matthew Hughes said the chain has been in serious talks with around 100 franchise applicants at any given time this year, compared to around 60 last year. "Some of that is down to the fact that we have got the Select Convenience format, but I guess some of it is probably down to the current climate as well," he said.

Bargain Booze's estate, including its straight off-licences and newsagent arm Thorougoods,

now comprises

615 stores, compared to 580 at the

start of this year.

Some of the Select Convenience stores are conversions from the existing estate, but many come from independent retailers, who have seen an average turnover increase of 39%

following the change in format, Hughes said.

"There is a margin of 18-23% depending on the mix of product. Given the mix is 45-55% alcohol and still very much driven by alcohol,

achieving that margin is quite something.

"Select Convenience has worked the way we thought it was going to work, which is nice. As far as the credit crunch is concerned it has not had a major negative impact. Retail sales across the estate are up something like 7% year-on-year, like-for-like," he said.