Famous Brands announced today that it has expanded its existing relationship with strategic alliance partner, Total South Africa, to introduce a new offering to the upper-end metropolitan service stations in the petroleum supplier’s service station network. Famous Brands will simultaneously retain its current agreement with Total South Africa to supply the Mugg & Bean brand as the exclusive coffee offering across the petroleum business.

Famous Brands’ Group Chief Executive, Kevin Hedderwick, comments, “We were invited by Total South Africa to collaborate with them in designing and developing a completely new retail model for their upper-end LSM service stations centred on a high quality grocery offering. The existing Bonjour retail shops, which form part of their national service station offering will continue to serve all other sites in the Total South Africa network with convenience, commodity-type essentials.”

“It was an enormous privilege for us to present an alternative to the format which Total was using around the world. Total’s response to the proposal at local and head office level in France was tremendously positive, and we were given immediate approval to proceed with a trial site in South Africa,” he says.

Total South Africa’s General Manager Sales and Marketing, Qetello Zeka comments, “The convenience factor for shoppers in today’s busy world has become paramount – how best can we as a fuel and convenience retail brand make life easier for our customers? We looked long and hard at various options before finally deciding and we are of course delighted that Thrupps has come on board in this exciting venture. This is taking retail convenience to another level. We are piloting this project and will then identify other sites that complement the Thrupps LSM range so that we ensure a perfect fit. Total has recently embarked on a retail network revamp with a fresh and modern new look to our service stations as well as a brand revitalisation and this partnership just puts the proverbial cherry on the top of our plans.”

In accepting Total South Africa’s brief to create an offering aimed specifically at the niche high-end of their network, Famous Brands’ challenge was to provide a retail solution which would add significant value in the competitive retail service station market in South Africa with the long term goal of elevating these sites to a leadership position in the category.

Hedderwick explains that the decision to select Thrupps as their retail partner in this venture was based on the store’s unique positioning as ‘Grocers of distinction’, with a history spanning 122 years. Founded in 1892, Thrupps’ offering today comprises premium-end service departments including a bakery and delicatessen serving a vast array of the best fresh local and imported foods as well as grocery items, legendary food hampers, catering services and a Home and Gift section, making it a distinctive South African grocery store for all times.

Chris Keene, owner of Thrupps, says, “Since the business was established by Charles Thrupp in Johannesburg in the last century, Thrupps has enjoyed the reputation of ‘Grocers of distinction’.”

“As far back as the 1940s, the Rt Hon. J. C. Smuts sent Thrupps food parcel supplies to Her Majesty the Queen and Sir Winston Churchill in the aftermath of World War II. In South Africa, we are truly proud to have served multiple generations of families from all walks of life in the greater Johannesburg community. In addition, customers from across the country will visit the store when in Johannesburg to purchase something interesting and different, or will have particular specialties couriered to them across the world,” states Keene.

Hedderwick notes, “I am astounded at the brand equity which Thrupps continues to benefit from in Gauteng. To this day the Northern suburbs Illovo store delivers to customers as far afield as Benoni, Krugersdorp, Pretoria and Soweto.”

Targeted at key upper-LSM service stations, Thrupps will be positioned as a competitive alternative within metropolitan markets. Sites will be clearly branded as Thrupps, and co-branded with Mugg & Bean On The Move. Each Thrupps store will comprise value adding services including a bakery, hot food selection, pre-prepared and made-to-order cold food, salads, and fresh produce, a delicatessen range, fresh flowers, and a limited high-end grocery and commodity convenience product range.

Hedderwick explains, “The main concept of this new model centres on consumers’ in-store experience paired with the offering. The Thrupps forecourt stores will have a unique market-place feel with an element of ‘theatre’ in the presentation and serving of the food. The premium merchandise on offer will be complemented by a modern take on the Thrupps brand and include a Mugg & Bean On the Move coffee offering with seating area for customers, and free Wi-Fi and charge-up facilities, in an aesthetically pleasing ambiance.”

In terms of the roll-out programme, the Group is on track to open its pilot Thrupps, Mugg & Bean model at an existing Total site in Senderwood, Bedfordview, in Gauteng at the end of October. Famous Brands has appointed a dedicated internal Project Champion who will head up a specialist food retail team to manage the brand as and when it rolls out.

Hedderwick comments, “Assuming the trial store at Senderwood is a success, there is potential to roll out Thrupps to at least 50 other Total sites. On all other sites which are not suitable for Thrupps, the Bonjour brand will continue to be used; it is also planned to expand Mugg & Bean across the Total network using a range of trading formats wherever this is practical.”

“The rationale for our involvement in this venture is compelling. The project will strengthen our existing strategic alliance with Total South Africa; it offers a new revenue stream for Famous Brands; and depending on its success, might give us the appetite to take Thrupps to market as part of our new deliberate strategy to expand our business into the broader leisure market, which includes the retail sector,” Hedderwick concludes.

Reference: Famous Brands – www.famousbrands.co.za

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