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PRESS RELEASE: CounterBooks was shortlisted for the Association of Convenience Stores’ “Technology Showcase” event

CounterBooks, a leading Online Retail Accounting Management Suite for the fuel, convenience and general retail industry, is delighted to announce that they were shortlisted and presented at the Association of Convenience Stores’ “Technology Showcase” in Westminster, London.

The “Technology Showcase” was part of the Association of Convenience Stores’ ‘Heart of the Community Conference 2014’ which attracted convenience retailers, Members of Parliament and ministers from across the country who discussed various issues faced by the convenience industry.

Along with four other innovative technology suppliers, CounterBooks shared how it uses cutting edge technology to assist convenience retailers to reduce cost, improve performance and manage risk. The audience included members of the Association of Convenience Stores’ Independent Board and other highly experienced and knowledgeable convenience retailers.

The CounterBooks' Story

John Roberts, Managing Director, CounterBooks said ‘We were delighted to have been shortlisted for the “Technology Showcase”. The event was a great opportunity for convenience retailers and suppliers to discuss how to utilise technology. We really enjoyed contributing to the discussion.’

ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: ‘Our Technology Showcase is a great opportunity for retailers and suppliers to share new ideas that are being developed for the convenience sector. We are delighted that CounterBooks was part of the event and able to share their innovations with those in attendance.’

To learn more about CounterBooks please visit

About CounterBooks

CounterBooks was developed in 2001 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first online full ledger accounting management suite designed specifically for retailers. It was originally developed by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting.

For further information about CounterBooks, including case studies, images or interviews, please contact, Laura Shafer – Marketing Assistant:-

Telephone: (+44) 0207 099 1050




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What to consider when investing in a franchise

Investing in a Franchise

1.    Define your investment
Before you start to investigate franchising, you must establish the level of investment you can comfortably afford to make. One of the biggest reasons for business failure in the UK is the proprietor not having the correct levels of funding. Some banks specialise in franchising and are listed on the BFA website (, you may want to speak to them for advice.

2.    Does it suit you?
Far too many people forget to judge their own stability for a franchise opportunity, yet this mistake can lead to years of unhappiness for you and your family. You must consider whether a franchise suits you, your needs, your wants and your family. For example, if you are looking at the convenience retail industry then you may need to invest a lot of hours on evenings or weekends to meet the needs of your customers.

3.    Choose the industry sector
Carry out some market research, looking at what business model best suits you. Try to avoid fad industries, consider the boom/bust cycle and address any market or statutory changes. This form of commercial investigation is the easiest and cheapest exercise to conduct but far too many potential franchisees overlook it when investing in a franchise.

4.    Seek professional advice
Advice will come in three forms:
– Legal: From BFA approved solicitors
– Financial:  From BFA approved accountants and banks
– Commercial: From existing franchisees, the franchisor, the British Franchise Association and other industry bodies.

5.    Understand the franchise
Thoroughly research the franchise opportunity you are considering and try and get as much information as possible. Speak to the franchisor and franchisees and find out as much about the franchise as you can. They should be open and honest and will help you to make an informed decision.

6.    Evaluate the information
Objectively compare your options on paper using the standard questions and a formatted system. It often helps to seek outside assistance at this stage from someone who has not become emotionally involved in the research.
Remember: Franchises can be more successful than other business models but it takes a lot of hard work a determination to succeed.

Remember: Franchises can be more successful than other business models but it takes a lot of hard work a determination to succeed.

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Top 10 Convenience Retail Trends to Expect in 2014

Convenience Trends 2014

According to IGD research the convenience retail industry is set to grow by 29.8% over the next five years, taking its value to £46.2bn. In this article, we take a look at what trends convenience retailers should expect to see this year.

1.     More value

Despite the more positive economic outlook for 2014, households are still feeling the pressure on their shopping budgets. This year we should expect to see an increasing number of savvy customers, looking for the best value products and discounts wherever possible.

2.     Social Media

Customers are turning to social media to drive their shopping decisions and find the best value products and discounts. Developing relationships with customers not just in the c-store but also online will be key for convenience retailers in 2014.

3.     Showrooming

Customers are constantly comparing prices online (home delivery) and in-store. Convenience retailers will need to work hard in 2014 to lure customers away from online offerings from supermarkets, demonstrating the value of the local c-store.

4.     Growth of Multiples

Sainsbury’s will have more c-stores than supermarkets this year and we should expect this trend to continue amongst other supermarkets, such as Morrison’s who hope to open 100 c-stores in 2014/15.

5.     Convenience meets discount

Booker, the wholesaler behind the Premier symbol group have launched the “Family Shopper” concept which combines convenience and discount to meet customer needs. We should expect this industry development to continue in 2014, particularly as discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have seen a successful 2013 with their discount c-store offering.

6.     Fresh Produce

According to IGD, fresh fruit and vegetables are the fastest growing category within the convenience retail industry. Convenience retailers will be looking to showcase their fresh produce this year with innovative methods to attract customers’ attention.

7.     Click and Collect

A trend which started in 2013 and set to rise this year, customers are taking advantage of the ‘convenience’ of Click and Collect, allowing them to purchase goods online and collect them in a local c-store – offering c-stores the opportunity to entice ‘click and collectors’ with their in-store offerings at the same time.

8.     Food-to-go

Food-to-go accounts for 15% of footfall in c-stores and is set to increase. C-stores will be taking up the opportunity of offering breakfast and dinner food-to-go options as well as lunch time offerings this year.

9.     Fuel retail

With c-stores providing more revenue for oil companies than fuel, we should expect to see a rise in convenience retailing at fuel stations in the coming year. Supermarkets are also looking to profit from this trend with supermarkets including Asda, now offering some of the cheapest fuel in the UK paired with a smaller Asda store.

10.   Growth in technology

As familiarity with new forms of payment methods grow, we will be seeing a greater demand for more flexibility and ease of payment in 2014. C-stores will need to adapt with payment options including contactless payments, in-store Pay Pal and mobile payments.

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CounterBooks at Future of Convenience Conference

This video was taken at the Future of Convenience Insight NACS Conference 2013. CounterBooks’ MD John Roberts discusses the role of CounterBooks within convenience retail and looks at what the future hold for the convenience sector.

Thanks to Petroplaza for the video.

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Are Symbol Groups the Future of Convenience?

Short days, gloomy, cold and rainy, that’s generally the outlook in January. Cheery isn’t it? It seems that a lot of news on convenience retail also reflects this mood. Many independent convenience retailers feel overpowered by the larger superstores such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco who are having an increased influence in the convenience retail sector.  Some independents have benefitted from government assistance such as reduced business rates. Many are also family run which means that their staff costs are low because the family is there to help. However, independent retail stores are still feeling the pressure.

But surely things aren’t that bad? As James Lowman (Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores) explained on Radio 4’s You and Yours, increasing numbers of consumers are shopping little and often and the change in shopper demographic (more single person households and an ageing population) is reinforcing the convenience shopping trend. So is 2013 really going to be that bleak for convenience retail? Is there not another way?

Symbol Groups Bright FutureMore independent retailers are becoming part of symbol groups. IGD (2009) highlight that there are many added benefits to a convenience retailer in joining a symbol group. Firstly, the convenience retailer will become part of a brand which consumers will easily recognise. Secondly, there will be improved buying terms, options to sell own branded products and improved access to technology such as POS systems. Symbol group retailers will also have access to other IT products including cloud accounting.

As IGD explain, symbol group stores are currently generating £13.6bn in sales, three times the level they delivered ten years ago, and they predict that symbol group stores will account for half of all convenience sales by 2020.

Symbol Groups Convenience Sales

James Lowman feels that there’s a lot of opportunity out there. Whilst he doesn’t deny that there is tough competition with the bigger retailers. It seems that symbol groups help to improve trade for independent retailers and so maybe 2013 will not be so bleak after all. You can listen to the full interview here:

Would you agree with the assessment? Are you part of a symbol group? How has this relationship improved footfall in your convenience store? Please comment below.