Exclusive: Booths takes first steps into North East with own-label product range in Fenwick Newcastle
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Shoppers in the North East of England can access Booths-branded products for the first time, after a small collection appeared in the Food Hall of Newcastle department store Fenwick this week.
There appears to be two Booths-branded gondola ends within the Food Hall, showcasing 60 products in total from the North West-based grocer. One display features Booths’ own label tea and coffee, while the other includes packet items such as nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
For Fenwick, the arrangement seems to mirror its tie-up with upmarket food brand Fortnum & Mason, whose biscuits and other selected products have been on sale in the Food Hall since November.
For Booths, however, the Fenwick relationship is the first time its products have been sold in a third-party store in the UK, and only the second time anywhere in the world. Only a month ago, news broke of Booths concluding a similar deal with Dairy Farm in Malaysia, resulting in 40 bestselling Booths products being sold in 19 shops across the country.
The Fenwick-Booths tie-up appears to be a sensible move for both parties. They share a similarly upmarket positioning, and both are successful, family-owned Northern independents.
— Graham Soult (@soult) December 29, 2016
However, Booths’ lack of stores anywhere near Newcastle – the nearest is across the Pennines in Penrith, or down the A1 in Ripon – means that there’s no danger of the Fenwick range cannibalising its own stores.
Fenwick, meanwhile, gains access to a high-end product range that cannot be bought anywhere else in the region, and further cements the reputation of its Food Hall as a foodie destination that is one of the UK’s top retail draws.
The start of a North East push?
Coincidentally, when the Telegraph reported that Booths was “to set up shop 6,588 miles away rather than attempt to crack the South of England”, I did point out on Twitter that Booths had yet to even crack the North East.
Never mind "….set up shop 6,588 miles away rather than attempt to crack the South of England" – we've no Booths in the North East either! https://t.co/h0nF4zBjLE
— Graham Soult (@soult) April 22, 2017
From its base in Preston, Booths has gently grown its estate over the years, reaching out beyond its Lancashire heartland (where it currently has 15 stores) into Cumbria (seven shops), Yorkshire (three), Cheshire (two) and Greater Manchester (one).
Ripon (opened 2009) and Penrith (2011) are two of the newest, while older and smaller stores, such as Marton and Ansdell on the Fylde coast in 2015, and Leyland back in 2004, have occasionally been closed.
And this Leyland furniture store was evidently once Booths – spot the ghost lettering! pic.twitter.com/TpqUiNlW8l
— Graham Soult (@soult) June 30, 2014
However, I understand that Booths currently has no specific plans to grow beyond its present 28 stores, as it settles down after a challenging, yet still resilient, 2015-16 that saw the Keswick store closed for six months after being flooded by Storm Desmond.
So, those of us in the North East who hope that the brand’s arrival in Fenwick Newcastle might signal the start of something bigger will most likely have to keep waiting.
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