A few weeks ago a Peacocks store, which is about 10 shops away from me, was boarded up. Signage has now gone up to say that a Sainsbury’s Local is coming in the spring. I already have competition from the nearby M-Local and the challenge of my rent increasing, so it’s going to be tough to take on another store as well.
However, I’ve had interest from Café Nero, which would like to buy the store, so I have a big decision to make. I have to think about whether I want to roll up my sleeves and fight, or do a deal with Café Nero. I’ve had it really good with no competition for two years, and now I’ll have to battle both stores for Sunday trade if I decide to keep going.
I appreciate that I am very lucky to have a choice and I feel for stores that are put in this position and have no other option than to carry on retailing. I know that I would be able to survive, but it would give me a lot of headaches I wouldn’t be able to progress as fast as I should be as I’ll be held back by firefighting the competition, rather than growing the business. I love having a second store, though, so I would definitely invest in another if I were to sell the Headington outlet.
In other news, I’ve been in Scotland and Northern England on a road trip with the Association of Convenience Stores. We visited Broadway Convenience Store in Edinburgh, owned by Dennis and Linda Williams. Dennis told me all about the great community initiatives they run as part of My Shop is Your Shop, such as introducing kids to healthy breakfasts, National Cuppa Day and organising a trolley dash.
I also visited Sanjeev Vadhera, who owns North East Convenience Stores with his brother Naveen. They have recently launched a shopper app which offers users exclusive special offers. I was really inspired by this and by how they have grown their business from one store to a chain of more than 20. Sanjeev said that the secret to their success was about being passionate about the business and not just thinking of it as a job, and having a team that is 100% motivated.
Videos of me interviewing both Dennis and Sanjeev will be shown at the ACS Summit 2014, which takes place at the National Convenience Show in Birmingham NEC on Tuesday 25 March.”