Stores, if they work right, get a lot of traffic leading to a lot of wear and tear. Your regulars probably don’t even notice the odd crack here, the loose wire arrangement there, if they have been in place for a long time. But trust me, newcomers will notice (they are looking up, down, all around because they don’t know where stuff is) and they will remain newcomers as they won’t come back if they don’t like what they see.

So, full marks to Nisa retailer Pommie Singh, who last had a refit three years ago and is looking to further freshen up. “Even with the credit crunch, you can’t just go on price alone,” says Pommie, who trades in Coventry at Pommie’s Supermarket. “I need a fresh pair of eyes to look at my store and advise.”

He is aware of fellow Nisa retailer Kishor Patel’s Retail Smart scheme, but is looking for someone outside the group.

Time was when the industry had an excellent independent advisor in Jim Roberts. Jim was an ex-VG (remember them?) retailer. He specialised in buying tatty old stores, doing them up and selling them on at a handsome profit.

Then he left retailing and went on the exhibition circuit, doing talks and advising stores anywhere in the country. He was cheap. He charged his travel expenses and a small day rate. He was a prize.

Sadly, Jim is no longer around. But is there anyone else out there? Does anyone know anybody who fits the bill of an affordable consultant with those fresh, fresh eyes. Please ring.

PS. I still remember Mike Weston who ran the early c-store chain Misselbrook & Weston who took me round his ‘playpit store’ where they tried out ideas. First thing, he said, you go over the road and look at the store from the outside. Then you ‘walk the store’, looking for faults and things missing, things that could be better. It’s good advice and takes only five minutes.