Independent retailer Vic Grewal has protected his profits by opening a community café in a vacant property just metres from his large Budgens store in Chorleywood.

The premium-positioned site had attracted significant interest from a number of multiple retailers keen to open their convenience format stores within it.

“A multiple opening so close would have been bad news for the Budgens store. I had to protect the business and get in there first,” he told Convenience Store.

“Fortunately, the landlord was aware of all the community work that I do and wanted to do business with me,” he added.

Called ‘Village Buzz’, the café includes a large downstairs room which community groups will be able to use for meetings and events.

“My hope is that groups such as The Hive, a local group from Chorleywood, will use the space to run homework clubs, dance classes, and more,” he said.

The café has been designed with parents in mind and has lots of space for pushchairs, plus an array of food to go and eat in options as well as a small range of premium grocery lines including gluten-free boxes of cereal.

Vic is also planning to develop the Budgens store in the coming months as part of a significant project which will see nine upmarket flats built above it.

The 5,000 sq ft store itself will also be reduced in size to 3,000 sq ft. The remaining space will be converted into a second shop unit which he hopes to rent out.

“Reducing the store to 3,000 sq ft will mean it won’t be restricted by Sunday trading regulations,” Vic said. “Smaller format stores are the future anyway. At the end of the day, the bigger the store, the bigger the overhead,” he added.

Vic also welcomed Booker’s planned acquisition of Musgrave which he hopes will lead to a further reduction in costs once the deal has been given the green light by the Competition and Markets Authority.