To be successful in retail you always need to be on the lookout for new opportunities to take your business forward, and Mohammed Saddique is a shining example of that.

Mohammed has been running the Best-One Eurofoods store in Armley, Leeds, for the past six years. Having worked in the store as a teenager, he took over its running from his father, but felt that the store could do better given a fresh direction. “The store was doing okay, but not as well as it could have been,” he explains. “It wasn’t in any danger of going out of business, but I didn’t feel that we were getting the most out of it.”

Although the store had been independent for 14 years, Mohammed decided that the time was right to join the Best-One symbol group. “We had considered it for a couple of years, but finally decided to go ahead in 2008,” he explains. “We felt that joining a group would offer us additional support and help us grow the business.”

Shop profile

Best-One Eurofoods, Armley, Leeds 
Opening hours
Mon-Sat 6am-7pm, 
Sun 7am-6pm 
Size: 1,400sq ft 
Services: PayPoint, National Lottery 
Staff: Four full-time/one part-time

At the same time as joining a symbol group, Mohammed decided to expand the business in another way, too. The family bought the premises next to the store and for a short period ran the two shops side by side, one as a newsagent and the other as a convenience store. They then joined the two together into one large store to make the most of the space on offer. “It was the best decision for the business, offering us more space for extra lines and storage,” he says. “In fact, we should have done it straight away, but we waited six months to see if it was better to have the two premises running separately. Once we realised that one larger store was better, we didn’t waste any more time.”

With a bigger store, Mohammed was better able to meet the needs of his extremely diverse customer base. The store is in the shadow of Armley Prison, and while some retailers might feel uncomfortable in such a location, Mohammed works it to his advantage. “People always assume that because there’s a prison nearby that we suffer from a lot of crime, but it actually works in our favour because we supply newspapers and magazines to the inmates at the prison,” he says. “They order in a lot of magazines, with sport and adult titles proving very popular. Now that we have the space, we stock a wide variety of these magazines as we like to cater to as many tastes as possible. It can be quite strange for some people to see the number of unusual magazines we stock, but it’s important to provide what customers want if we can.”

He has also revamped some of his ranges to suit his other major demographic. “There’s a school close by so we get a lot of kids in the store,” he says. “We really focus on confectionery and crisps as they make up a lot of sales for the store. When we extended the store we added some extra space to both of these categories and we always make sure that the displays are fully stocked for our customers. In the morning and between 3pm and 4pm are the key sales periods so it’s important to have them ready for these times.”

Part of the refocus has meant Mohammed has stepped up his community involvement, donating to nearby schools and sponsoring a local football team. He says that besides exposure for the store, it creates a feeling of goodwill in the community. “It brings extra customers in as they see our name associated with the school or team, but it also shows that we’re willing to support the local community,” he says. He encourages other retailers to take advantage of any opportunities to get involved like this. “It obviously costs you, but it’s money well spent.”

Mohammed says that even though there have been some lean years when he has felt like giving up, he now believes that it’s all been worthwhile. “I’ve been working here for 16 years so I feel that we help to look after the community and take care of them,” he says. “There were some times when I thought maybe we should finish up, but we’ve turned it around and are really prospering now. I can see myself being involved in the store for at least another 20 years.”

His work in the community has led to Mohammed being named as an ambassador for the Bestway group. “It’s a great honour and privilege to be an ambassador for the group,” he says. “This shows how a retailer can be rewarded for the hard work they do.”

Last October he was also highly commended at the Bestway Retail Development Awards. “Even though we didn’t win the top prize, it was still amazing to gain recognition for our efforts,” he says. “We’ve all put so much into the store, me and my entire family,” he adds. “I just thank God it’s paid off and the business is thriving. We can now grow the store further.”