Kamran was landed in the deep end when he was drafted in to run his familiy’s second store after the last person running it walked out without warning.
The shop was on its knees, with turnover a pitiful £2,000. “The sales were bad and it was a complete disaster!” says Kamran. “Customers would come in and complain that we didn’t have any of the products they wanted. But we started asking them what they would like, and told them that by next week we’d have it in.”
Store: Wiggleys Corner Shop, Oxford
After six weeks of running the store, Kamran decided to join Best-One and then invested £65,000 on a refit. “The banks don’t give much these days, so I had to borrow from a leasing company,” he says. “I wanted to have all the essentials, plus a new cash point and PayPoint.
The refit was a drastic improvement, making for a much lighter and more welcoming store, and the equipment is more modern and energy efficient. “Before, the guy had 13 small fridges and freezers, so I took everything out and now we have a wall of open chillers and two big freezers, as well as a Wall’s impulse ice cream chiller.”
Now that the store is back on track, Kamran has been able to focus more on meeting the needs of different customers. “You have to concentrate on the business, you can’t just stand at the till and wait for customers to come in,” he says. “There are quite a few ethnic workers employed at the local Mini factory. They were always asking if we sold any Polish food, so I ordered all the national brands in. We also started to stock West Indian ake and salt fish, and lots of bread and cakes.”
The new range has attracted a raft of new customers, including many from out of town who come especially to buy the specialist goods.
Around 40% of the shop’s customers are now Polish, and Kamran is even picking up the language to make them feel more at home. “If you learn a word a day, you pick up quite a lot,” he says. “I can offer customers a bag in Polish and Portugese and I speak a little Arabic too. It makes people feel that I am their friend and they are more loyal to the store because of it.”
The 1,400sq ft store is now turning over a respectable £18,000, and Kamran has his sights set on buying a larger store further down the line.