There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the arrival of Booths at Media City, Manchester. So after making a first trip there I thought I would use our strategic tool, SHOP to analyse how successful this store format is.

The Booths personality is really strong, the store looks very modern, in keeping with its location. The signage, clear branding and imagery both on the exterior and within the store environment all start to tell the Booths story clearly. The atmosphere as you walk in on the ground floor feels really vibrant.

Lots of brand and product leaflets are clearly displayed in the store for customers to pick up. Once inside product information and pricing was clear once you got to the shelves. I really admire the fact that Booths always stock something new and a bit different and support British suppliers, this was evident in the displays around the store. I have always perceived Booths to be at the pricier end of the supermarket offering and this store being no different. There wasn’t anything that obviously tackled product pricing so whilst they may achieve parity with competitors it’s not promoted.

Overall feel from the store was that it’s been incredibly beautifully designed and the product displays were really inspiring. Although, with some of the displays, it’s not clear whether a customer actually has permission to buy from them, which is surely what the purpose of product display is. Retail design has clearly been an important consideration here and a lot of effort has gone into developing the store architecture. The store is very light airy and the images used really give the feeling of fresh produce on offer, the deli is inviting and has a lot of character. All of these things go toward a feeling positive towards the store. The Booths staff are wonderfully friendly and make the check-out experience quick, efficient and pleasant.

I found it really difficult to navigate the store; the store layout isn’t clear from the entrance. Trying to find the way upstairs I first ended up in the frozen food section, then did a couple of laps of the store. Finally, when I was about to give up, I saw someone walking up the stairs, so headed that way and finally found some clear direction on the walls but it was all hard work. Product areas are also badly signposted, relying on customer knowledge of how products are stocked in a supermarket rather than clearly showing the way. Once I made it upstairs, it took me a long time to find what I wanted, which was frustrating. I want my grocery shopping to be as easy as possible. I was glad to see that you could pay upstairs as there are tills here but when I visited not one of them was open.

There is no clearly visible promotional strategy. Nothing to tell you what if any promotions are in store and this seems at odds with the category norms in grocery shopping. In a hugely competitive arena consumers are constantly being bombarded with value messages and actively looking for the best deals, so to not find it is unexpected. The lack of promotion doesn’t help customers and in a store where there has been so much investment it would help them get the return they must need.

Chloe Richards