Rennie Grove Hospice Care has 24 shops across Herts and Bucks. Combined with various other retail initiatives, such as its lucrative eBay store and rag recycling, this chain of charity shops is tasked with bringing in more than £2 million each year towards Rennie Grove’s specialist care for local families affected by cancer and other life-limiting illness.
The charity is always searching for cost-effective ways to maximise the potential of items kindly donated by the public. One such initiative is good value training. Former florist Diane Kelleher, who runs the Rennie Grove shop in Fleetville, recently held in-house workshops for all shop managers and assistant managers. Using her experience of presenting goods to look their best, she showed colleagues how to adapt what they have available in order to do the same.
“Sometimes it’s simply a case of combining items that complement each other to create a ready-made gift,” explains Diane. “Packaging and presentation can also make all the difference.”
Diane showed colleagues how to transform the large, brightly coloured plastic bags used for sorting seasonal stock into the perfect packaging material. “Each shop has a supply of those red, blue and green bags,” says Diane, “so why not extend their use to make an eye-catching display?”
Since Diane’s workshops, each shop has invested in rolls of ribbon and cellophane for packaging too. “The managers have always been very good at squirrelling donated items away, waiting for the perfect time to pop them on the shelves,” says Diane. “This training simply encouraged them to build on that planning and use any downtime to make up coloured bows for busy times like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Days. I was really pleased to hear from colleagues that at Easter they were experimenting with packaging mini eggs in cute mugs. They said they were flying out of the door for more money than they could have made on the mugs alone.”
Director of Retail and Trading for Rennie Grove, Deborah Gould, has just returned from speaking at the Hospice UK retail conference in Warwickshire. She says: “We’re very fortunate to benefit from a huge number of donated items to sell in our shops and ebay store. It’s our aim and our responsibility to make sure we maximise those items’ income potential, whether that’s through adding value - as Diane’s training demonstrated - or making collectables available to a global audience on our ebay store. Training is a crucial part of achieving this.
“Our shop managers have a wealth of experience in all sorts of disciplines but they won’t necessarily have a retail background when they begin the role. Tailored training helps them achieve great things with the limited resources we have available and is great for their personal and professional development. They really enjoyed Diane’s workshops. We pride ourselves on being able to offer in-house training that not only brings the managers together but also gives them simple, easy tips that they can put into practice straight away and immediately see the benefit.”
Rennie Grove shop managers also had chance to learn about visual merchandising courtesy of John Lewis as part of a six-month bespoke training package funded by Health Education Thames Valley and delivered by Bucks New University at The Clare Charity Centre. Deborah was feeding back on this ‘Retail Academy’ at the national conference and told delegates: “The training offered an excellent opportunity for our managers to maximise the income-generating potential of their specific shop, helping them understand what sells well and how to optimise those trends through effective leadership, marketing and business development.”
Pop into your local Rennie Grove shop to see how the team are putting their training to good use!