Tell us the history of your store.
We started in 1990 when we opened a local convenience store. Since then we have been developing it from a small store into a larger store which stocks a variety of convenience products. The store is in quite a good area, people are very good. There is a mix of white people and other ethnicities as well. We enjoy having our customers come to our store. It is quite a local store so we respect all our customers. We sell a variety of groceries, alcohol, chocolate and soft drinks. We cater for pretty much anything the local people want. We try to help them out as best we can.
 
How long have you been a retailer?
We have been retailers for 21 years. 
 
How would you describe your store?
Our store is a small local convenience store. We offer a wide range of services including top-up and lottery. We also offer Western Union so that customers can send money abroad. We try to cater for everything really. Our customers are very good. We are very happy where we are.
 
What sort of trading area do you operate in?
It is a local area, on the outskirts of the town centre. It is a middle-class area. We get all ages and families. We have got a primary school opposite so the school kids pop in the shop as well.
 
Do you think retailers get the respect they deserve from the local community?
Yes, I do. In our case, we integrate ourselves with the local community rather than the community integrating themselves with us. We help them out quite a lot. They help us. Across the road there is a church. They do events. We help them when they need help. It works both ways in the community. You have got to offer the shopper what they want.
 
Do you find the suppliers’ category management plans work?
Yes, I think they work. They have made a major difference to our store. At first we didn't have a category management plan. But for the last 10 years we have been implementing category plans. It has really worked. Even our shopfitting – making it look clean and tidy, everything on the shelf is nicely laid out. It makes a massive difference to the store and helps improve sales a lot.
 
How do you get up to date information on new products?
It is mainly through the trade magazines like Asian Trader. There are also various sources on the internet. Colleagues are another source – friends in the industry will tell us this is a new product. We will try our best to stock it if they recommend it.
 
What are your views on the government pushing through the tobacco display ban and plain packaging?
Plain packaging is a bit like the tobacco display ban. Since I was a child I have been in the store. I have personally never smoked a cigarette. I don't see how the tobacco display ban and plain packaging will influence members of the public but that is just the view of people I talk to. Plain packaging may help bring the number of smokers down. But in another way it could benefit criminals who sell illicit cigarettes, which could damage trade like mine or any other legitimate store.
 
What is the best piece of advice you would give to your local retailer?
Three pieces of advice to another retailer would be make sure your store is looking good, provide friendly customer service and make sure your product range is right. Those three things will help you improve your store a lot.
 
What sections of the store work best for you and which are the most challenging?
Confectionery and crisps work best for us. Other sections of the store like grocery are quite down at the moment. But we do offer promotions and simple things like point of sale which will help to make that corner of the store lively again and bring sales up a bit.
 
Do you ever have customers asking for products they have seen on TV that you know nothing about?
Yes we do. But before that happens we try to find out ourselves what the new product is. If customers do ask for it we bring it in our store to try it. If it doesn't work out then at the stage we will change to a different product. It depends on the customer demand. If we get one customer asking for it, that would not necessarily mean there will be a whole range of customers asking for the same product. If 10 customers asked for the same product, we would definitely try it.
 
If you were to give up your store tomorrow, what would you like to do?
I would live happily and enjoy myself with my family. I would do things I had missed in the 21 years of retailing like going out, holidays and enjoying life.
 

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