The owner of a new convenience store-meets-speciality food retailer in the £9bn regenerated Battersea Power Station is performing logistical gymnastics in keeping the store stocked with locally-produced premium products and those from around the world.
Newly opened The Battersea General Store, in south-west London, is Raj Bathia’s second outlet. He also owns The Marketplace Store, at nearby Chelsea Bridge Wharf, a 2,000 sq ft store, which opened in 2008.
The Battersea General Store is much larger than The Marketplace Store – 6,500 sq ft – and is the first of many new shops, bars and restaurants destined for the 42-acre site.
Raj described the new shop as “your global local store” combining everyday convenience with a speciality food store.
It stocks a huge range of international products as well as a wide core range of British foods, including locally-sourced goods from Covent Garden market, two microbreweries in the Battersea area and the local flower market.
Raj said Nisa supplied him with about 40% of its products – mainstream groceries, frozen and chilled and he personally oversaw the supply from up to 75 other suppliers for the speciality products.
He described it as “a logistical nightmare” sourcing from all around the world, including the US and Italy.
“A lot of producers have local agents and get the products to us but that’s not easy either. We make 10-15 different orders that have to be done on a daily basis.”
He said he was keeping a tight control of all the orders and overseeing everything especially in the early days “because wastage can kill you”.
“The power station is developing. Mitigating our losses is the key and key to that is stock control and order management,” he added.
Raj describes his other store as a smaller version of his new outlet.
“The important thing for us is quality, not quantity. I’m not interested in a chain of 10 stores. The high street is dominated by multiples and I’m not attempting to compete with them in any way.
“For us, if in the right location and if it fits with our business plan, strategy and objectives we would look at expanding but slowly, slowly. We will turn down opportunities until the right one comes along.”
One of the new shop’s key focal points is the wooden “fruit and veg boat” that sits at the front of the store with a wide selectin of locally-sourced fresh products.
Customers can also buy freshly-cut meats and cheeses, olives and paninis, for example, from the in-store continental delicatessen, or enjoy a pastry and a barista-made coffee on the riverfront.
The alcoholic drinks range incudes craft beers, global spirits and a large variety of wines.
Raj is keen to keep pricing in line with the multiples, although the store has a premium feel throughout, and offer “everyday prices on everyday products”.
Chris Moore, new business channel controller at Nisa, said the store demonstrated the diversity of the group’s membership and the stores it supplied.