This month I attended a hearing at Oxford Town Hall about my 24-hour alcohol licence application. It wasn’t straightforward – we had the Neighbourhood Watch arguing that I shouldn’t have a 24-hour licence as there would be people hanging round the streets at night drinking.
Luckily, I had a good lawyer from Lockett & Co. I told the objectors that I was a responsible retailer and my lawyer said the law stated that a liquor licence should be obtained for the hours that the store is open. He rightly pointed out that there is no anti-social behaviour as a result of people buying alcohol from our store.
After two hours we were granted the 24-hour licence. I mentioned it to my cab driver on my way back from the hearing and he was really pleased as he said the local cab drivers used to use my store all the time when the previous owner opened late. He then sent out an alert to all 150 cab drivers in his firm to tell them.
Before I go to 24-hour opening I have to put some plans in place. Two of my day staff want to move to nights, so I’ll need to find two new day staff, and I’ll also refresh all the staff on dealing with underage customers.
I have had a visit from Heinz recently. They spent the whole day restructuring the store – and not just focusing on their own products. They moved my large take-home soft drinks towards large bags of crisps, near the soft drinks chiller. They put cereals and bread together, and they put the bicuits with the tea and coffee.
They also created some in-store theatre with a competition for customers to enter a prize draw to win a barbecue when they buy certain Heinz sauces.
Katie Hemmings and Sid Ghani from HIM have also been to look at the differences between Headington (which is impulse driven) and Leamington (which has a bigger basket spend). Katie measured the space I give to certain sections, including news & mags, which is 1m news and 3m magazines. She asked how many hours I spent on the different categories and I told her I spend nine hours a week on news and mags. It made me think about whether I should be giving it that much space. I’m now considering whether I can reduce it to 2m of mags and put newspapers on a column stand.