Abbie is a natural people person, so working in retail suits her to the ground. “I’m really chatty so I’ve always loved working in retail,” she says. “I worked as a graduate manager at Toys R Us and then for BP as a till operator, while my step-brother Craig worked as store manager.”
However, she became frustrated with the restrictions placed on her by working for a national corporate. “I loved working at a forecourt, but would rather be working for myself and do it better. Big companies have so many procedures in place that you couldn’t make any of your own changes, such as moving a category to a different section of the store, or upselling a certain product at the till.”
Aged: 28 and 24
Store: Abbiecraig Services, Cupar, Fife
Their parents already owned a store in Dingwall in Inverness, but wanted to give Abbie and Craig the change to run their own operation, so they invested in a new service station with Abbie and Craig in mind (even naming the business after them!) However, while the siblings had financial support, they certainly didn’t have their parents on their doorstep - Abbiecraig Services is based 150 miles away in Cupar, Fife. “I don’t know why they trusted us to take it on,” laughs Abbie, “I can’t even keep my bedroom tidy!”
However, the two have demonstrated their retailing nous throughout the store. “We knew we had to give customers a value message, so we bought in lots of pricemarked goods and products priced at a pound, which was really effective,” says Abbie.
Craig finds analysing sales one of the most interesting parts of the job. “I look after stock ordering and finding out what sells and what doesn’t,” he says. “It’s great to see that you’re building your sales year-on-year.”
Abbie and Craig have clearly inherited some of their parents’ retailing ability as sales have increased 50% since they took on the store, which was previously a Londis, but is now part of the Mace Group.
The pair concede that working together was the biggest learning curve. “We’ve fallen out upteen times, but we always make up and we’re a lot closer than we used to be,” says Abbie.
Over the next five years, the pair plan to grow their sales so that the can invest in a full refit. “We’ve made some changes to the site, but there’s only so much you can do with the existing building. It’s had so many different parts bolted on over the years that there are three stockrooms in different parts of the shop!”
They site their parents as their greatest inspiration. “They’re very good at what they do,” says Abbie. “They’ve always been positive and given us good feedback. Having them trust us so much to give us the chance to run the store has changed us - we’re still happy, bubbly people, but we’ve wised up a lot.”