Flexeserve Testimonial – Country Grocers & Liquor Ballan

The Client

Founded in 1999, Country Grocers & Liquor is a proud family-run business with 5 independent supermarkets located in beautiful regional Victoria.
Country Grocers are dedicated to supplying the community with the freshest, highest-quality goods and locally made produce. This includes the bustling Inglis St, Ballan store run by passionate Store Manager Ashlee Plucke and a dedicated team of 70 team members.

Opportunities & Challenges

With the development of new housing estates and increased construction in the area, Country Grocers saw potential in enhancing their existing takeaway food offer.
The team was already offering hot food from the deli, utilising the Perfect Fry automated deep fryer. Their vision was to create a hot food-to-go offer at the checkouts, strategically located next
to the fridges and confectionary snack items. To make their vision a reality, the team needed a new hot food display cabinet.

Solution

“We had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve, but our existing unit was holding us back” Ashlee explains.

“Our previous hot food display was too hot to touch and was melting the food packaging. The harsh heat was drying the food out, which was limiting shelf life and leading to more food
wastage”.

Witnessing firsthand the benefits of the Flexeserve hot food display cabinet at the Metcash Expo, the team connected with Meris to implement a solution. With the guidance of Meris Sales Director Andrew Brick and Development Chef Alex Prior, the Flexeserve 3 tier, 1m display unit was installed in August 2023.

Flexeserve hot food display at Country Grocers Ballan supermarket.

Results

The results were almost immediate. Within 2 months, sales were up by 37%. In just six months, sales increased by a staggering 41%. With year-on-year sales up
by 81%.

Key to the team’s success has been establishing a workflow that works for both staff and customers, maximising sales, and minimising food wastage.

Increased Variety

The Flexeserve works around the clock, from 6am – 8pm, 7 days a week. Starting at 6am, tradies and workers can grab a quick egg and bacon muffin or ham and cheese croissant on their way to work.

With the Flexeserve conveniently located at the checkout, they also take the opportunity to grab a drink and any other confectionary or snacks on their way out, which drives up basket size and
transactional spend. From 10.30am to 2pm, customers are treated to a wide variety of options. From fried snacks, such as chicken wings, dim sims, and chicken kiev balls,to lunch options including hot dogs, toasted sandwiches, hot gravy rolls, pies, and sausage rolls.

More substantial meals are also available including lasagna, lamb shanks and mash potatoes, fish and chips, roasted veggies, and garlic bread. Every taste, for every time of day, is catered for.

At 4-5pm, roast chickens are added to the Flexeserve, alongside the ready-to-go meals for customers seeking a delicious and convenient dinner option.

The extensive variety of menu options is made possible by the Flexeserve’s independent heating zones. Each shelf can be set at a different temperature to suit different foods. As opposed to
other units on the market where you are limited to a single temperature for the whole unit.

Food in the Flexeserve hot food display at Country Grocers supermarket Ballan.

Reduced Food Wastage

Reducing food wastage is a key priority for the business and one that Ashlee and the team are passionate about.

Since installing the Flexeserve, food wastage has reduced to an outstanding 0.4%.

Nothing is wasted. The Flexeserve provides a second life for produce and other items that are nearing end of life, providing another opportunity to make a sale. Items that haven’t sold in the deli,
including focaccias, pies and desserts are moved to the Flexeserve.

A great example of this was the Christmas hams. While many operators end up significantly reducing their Christmas hams to clear them. The team came up with the idea to cook and
freeze ham and cheese muffins, and later sold them in the Flexeserve.

Key Takeaways

What is Ashlee’s advice to other supermarkets thinking of offering hot food?
“Do it! Go for it! There is a market out there waiting for you.

The Flexeserve, backed by the support and guidance of Meris, has been a game changer in building a successful new revenue stream as well as significantly reducing food wastage.

Beyond the sales success, we are proud that we are able to support our community with our food-to-go offer. Our community has an elderly demographic, some of our customers don’t have
means to cook their own food. With the availability of ready-to-go meals, these customers now have access to delicious and wholesome meals. It means a lot to us to be able to support and provide this service to our community.

Click to download Country Grocers Ballan Case Study

Testimonial

"The results were almost immediate. Within 2 months, sales were up by 37%. In just six months, sales increased by a staggering 41%. With year-on-year sales up by 81%. "

- Ashlee Plucke, Store Manager, Country Grocers & Liquor Ballan