It’s been slower progress than I had hoped for on our journey to extend our store, Tara’s News, but we have made an important breakthrough and it should be full speed ahead now.

The primary reason for the hold-up was our ATM, which needs to relocate for the refit, but I was told it would cost £11,000 to move it! As we are moving to the Post Office Local format as part of the expansion, I was hoping that the PO would help fund this, but I didn’t get an instant response. It took a bit of time and there was some muscle-flexing involved, but now common sense has prevailed and we can get under way with the work.

So with that resolved, we are looking to get an amendment to the planning permission processed and then get Jordons in for the refit and relaunch, hopefully by June. We had a couple of options we were toying with, including a double-store extension, but planning permission for that would take at least another six months so we have decided to develop a model which would see our 622sq ft shop extended to 800 by incorporating the former post office and stockroom, and then setting up a shipping container at the back to act as the warehouse.

You have to look at all the options that will future-proof your business, and everything from parcel collection to food to go requires more space. There is no doubt that food to go is the future and It was tempting to rip half the shop out and get rid of some legacy categories altogether, but we decided that we should start off trading as a proper c-store because we haven’t really given that a proper go up to now. So we’ll start off with a smaller hot food offer and some fantastic bean-to-cup coffee for £1 and, if it does well, we can always expand again.

We have agreed to adopt Londis as our new fascia, but for the time being we are continuing to trade as Premier, and both teams have been super-helpful. There is a lot of opportunity for the future and those who are able to capitalise on 
this will be those who will be successful, and 
I for one am genuinely excited about the opportunities that the merger between Booker and Tesco will bring.