Do you ever get caught in that bind where you know the store needs a boost but you can’t afford the full refit? A tweak would help, but where to start?

Maqsood Akhtar got in touch from Blackthorn News And Food at Bramley in Rotherham, asking if there was anyone who could give him expert advice. I suggested his cash and carry and the symbol groups, but he had tried both and it hadn’t been helpful. “Because I’m not an off licence or a big store they don’t help.”

This ticked him off a bit as he spends thousands at the cash and carry. He adds: “The reason why I’m asking is a new Aldi has opened up less than 1/2 mile away from me and I’m just wanting some ideas to help our store. Our main customers are a mix of school kids to families and elderly. Unfortunately, due to our location we have no passing trade at all (unless you’re lost).”

His medium size store offers “everything CTN” plus Payzone, lottery and myHermes parcels.

Before the advent of Aldi, his other competition was another small independent, a Sainsbury’s and a Bargain Booze. “The other three haven’t really affected us in the past due to our customer rapport, our home delivery service and our family values and interaction as a community store.”

Once upon a time our industry had just such an expert that Maq requires: Jim Roberts (RIP), ex-retailer, previously dab hand in buying duff shops and making a profit out of them, then becoming an affordable consultant.

I think there’s a gap in the market. Anyone know anyone?