Bargain Booze owner Conviviality Retail has posted surging full-year profits despite a fall in sales due to store closures. Retail Week speaks to boss Diana Hunter.

Conviviality has had a strong year. Are you pleased with the results?

I’m really pleased with the results. We’re slightly ahead of expectations whilst improving our franchisees’ prospects. We set out a quality-driven strategy and we’re seeing the results of that in our average sales per store [up 3% to £16,054 a week]. We have 427 franchisees. They are critically important to the business. And now we’re back to a quality level of franchisees, we want them to go from single-based retailers to multiple. 

Can you explain the reasons behind rationalising the store estate?

In 2010 and 2011 there were stores being opened that weren’t necessarily in good locations. So we spent two years closing stores, and now we’re starting to build momentum with new store openings. There’s been a shift from trying to deal with poor performing stores to getting quality retailers back into stores.

You acquired Wine Rack in the period and Rhythm and Booze since year end. Will Conviviality be making any further acquisitions this year?

We want to consolidate the acquisition we just made, it’s very early days.  We’ll see. Watch this space. The opportunities are out there. Wine Rack gives us that specialist wine store and opens a different area of the country including the South. It offers our franchisees another fascia too.  

What plans does Conviviality have around improving its convenience proposition?

We have 126 convenience stores, we want to hone our proposition. We have 4,000 SKUs, our opportunity is about targeting those SKUs. Our plans for the year ahead are to make sure we have the right assortment to meet customers’ needs, so crisps, snacks and other food as well.  

Did the World Cup boost sales?

It was good. In the two hours before the first England match sales were up 20%. Like-for-likes were up 14% in the first week at Wine Rack, and up 7% at Bargain Booze.