Retailers around the country are getting on track for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Over the coming year we’ll be following developments with four retailers who have events taking place near their stores, as they prepare for the impact on their shops as the excitement builds, and during the Games themselves
Silvertown Spar, near London’s ExCel Centre, East London
Raj is in the privileged position of having a store just metres away from the ExCel Centre, which will host seven events, including boxing, wrestling and judo, in addition to six Paralympic events.
He opened the store in 2008 in a new development and has seen the benefit of regeneration in the area ahead of the Games. “Business is picking up all the time as the regeneration continues,” he says. “We didn’t know at the time of opening that the ExCel Centre would be an Olympic venue, so that’s a real bonus for us.”
Unsurprisingly, he is optimistic about the impact of the Games. “Coaches will drop off spectators just down the road so they will walk past us, and we’ll be right next to the new Cable Car, which will transport pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames. This will leave a legacy, too, guaranteeing higher footfall moving forward. We will also benefit from the build up to the Games, as there’ll be other competitions to test out the venue, as well as pre-Olympic trials.”
He is planning ahead to make the most of the extra trade through extending his food to go to include fast-cook pizzas, and wants to extend opening hours temporarily.
Londis, Weymouth, Dorset
Londis retailer Steve Bassett has three stores in and around the South coastal town of Weymouth, which will serve as the location for most of the 2012 Olympic sailing events. The events are guaranteed to see a tide of tourists and enthusiasts wash into the town, providing buoyant trading conditions.
It will be a welcome occurrence, says Steve, for whom the past few months have been challenging. “Preparations commenced more than a year ago and involved most of the town centre roads being re-surfaced and new lights and roundabouts installed in order to ease traffic flow during the Games.
“I know that when it’s all finished it will be great, but for now the appalling traffic that the work is creating is a real nightmare for me and my suppliers,” he says. However, jams aside, the early arrival of a few teams for training purposes in the past few weeks means that excitement for the main event is starting to build.
“I can’t wait for it all to kick off,” says Steve. “I’m expecting it to be manic. Lots of my friends are asking me if I’ll be watching the sailing, and I keep saying I hope not! I hope I’ll be far too busy humping stock around and serving long queues at the till!”
Spar Walthamstow, London
Spar Walthamstow is just two Tube stops away from the Olympic Park in Stratford, which will be a hive of sporting activity come 2012. The Park houses the Olympic Stadium where the athletics will take place, as well as the aquatics centre, basketball arena, BMX track, handball arena, hockey centre, velodrome and water polo arena.
“The council said it would pump lots of money into Walthamstow because of the Olympics,” says James. “Although it hasn’t invested as much as we’d hoped, it has renovated some of the buildings in the area, which is good.”
He is expecting footfall to increase dramatically over the course of the Olympics, largely due to an increase in people staying in the area to watch the games. “Local people will have family staying with them over the Olympics because Stratford is so close by. Hopefully, they’ll come to the store while they’re here.”
In addition, James was hoping to have a B&B above the store up and running for Olympic visitors, but unfortunately it won’t be ready on time. However, there are plans for a large Travelodge to open beside Walthamstow station. “Anything that brings people into the area is good for business,” says James.
Hampton Court Superstore, London
Hampton Court Superstore co-owner Virinder Pathak is hoping for speedily inflated sales in the summer of 2012 when two key Olympic cycling events whizz past his door.
The well-stocked store, which also features a café, is located just a stone’s throw away from the route for both the men’s and women’s road cycling race taking place on July 28 and 29, and the road cycling time trial race taking place on August 1.
The Olympic road cycling time trial race will be set against the clock and will see athletes powering through Elmbridge and past Virinder’s store on day five of the Olympic Games in August 2012, and the time trial route actually begins and ends in Hampton Court, a fact which is likely to attract throngs of eager spectators and cycling enthusiasts.
“We’ve been here for 20 years and although we are in a tourist area, we have never experienced anything like the excitement that the Olympics will bring,” says Virinder. “I am planning to introduce lots of new chest freezers as I am expecting ice cream sales for spectators to be huge. I’ll probably have a whole separate one just for Häagen- Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.”
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