Kaual Patel helps run the Torridon Road Post Office in Catford alongside his uncle and other family members. He discusses importance of local community and why they decided to start catering to the second hand parcels market.

For the last 40 years, Kaual Patel has helped run the Torridon Road Post Office in Catford alongside his family. It’s situated inside a Nisa convenience store and recently underwent a 10-week refit where they completely stripped back, ripped everything out and worked from a blank canvas.

”We’ve had the building since 1984 and took over the Post Office in 2006, so it was due a makeover,” says Patel. ”It was a big risk, all of the information we’d read said that shutting for 10 weeks would force people to change their routine, and we were warned it can take up to two years to draw people back.”

People did change their routine, but the risk massively paid off; trade is up 35%, and still climbing. ”We’ve made better use of the space,” says Patel. “We created a larger area specifically for the safe storage of parcels and massively expanded our retail offering.”

Tapping into at-home occasions

When Kaual Patel did the refit, he wanted to make sure they had a huge variety in terms of what they could offer, and crucially, that they were a one-stop-shop for customers.

”On top of what you might expect, we have a popcorn machine, we do hotdogs, milkshakes, slushies, coffee, fresh orange juice…we all know that staying home is the new going out.

”Streaming services have overtaken the cinema so we offer the cinema experience without going out – you get your snacks from us and watch a movie at home,” says Patel.

”We also have my personal favourite space in the shop, The Vault – a 33 square metre cold room full of beer and wine stored at the right temperature, ready to enjoy. We’ve created our own craft beer called Torridon Lager which is delicious, and we have another one coming. Customers love it.”


What is it like running a Post Office?

Patel says running a Post Office enhances his family’s sense of being part of the community.

”I love running a post office, I really enjoy it. You see people from all walks of life, from the elderly locals coming to withdraw cash to the youngsters coming in and doing their banking or selling their clothes on eBay, and people coming in to send gifts to their loved ones abroad. You can have some really nice conversations with people, and learn new things. I like to learn people’s names, it makes them feel really welcome.

“I was surprised at first at how busy a Post Office can get,” continues Patel. ”I joined during COVID and we had queues right down the street, we were trying to keep everyone safe which was very difficult but it really demonstrated the importance of the Post Office to the local community.

”We love being at the heart of the community, and we’ve recently finished a project with local school children, who designed a huge mosaic that now sits outside the front of our store. It encapsulates everything that represents our community.”

Enhancing the parcels proposition

Post Office recently expanded its carrier offering and Patel believes that having varied carriers  has enhanced his parcels proposition.

”We have DPD and Parcelforce up and running at the moment, and we’re really excited to get set up with Evri, which is happening soon,” he says. ”We’re heard great things from other Postmasters and we can see in other convenience stores that Evri drives up footfall.”

Patel has seen parcel volumes pick up immensely recently, as the second hand market, eBay selling and the ‘January clear out’ has meant that they do about 30-40 specials per day.

”DPD has also generated a lot more business for us, we’re really busy with it – which is a great thing,” says Patel. ”We’re conscious that Post Office has to keep up with the times and this is a great step towards that, it was a good move by Post Office.

”We’ve even created a WiFi network for customers to make it easier for them to get online and download their labels and pick-up codes, so we’re doing everything we can to modernise too. We have team members who are on hand to help with the digital stuff, they can help those that aren’t as digitally savvy.”


From Walford to Catford: EastEnders star Jake Wood performed the opening of new-look Torridon Road Post Office and Convenience store.

Integrating banking services within conveninece stores

Post Office also offers banking services and Patel believes this has the potential to positvely impact businesses and a store’s customer base.

”Cash is still an integral part of society, and ensuring access to cash for our community is really important to us. People use it for budgeting, they use it to pay for services, and we need to embrace that,” says Patel. “Yet I personally am really glad Post Office has picked up on banking services – as high street banks have closed we’ve seen more and more people coming in to do their banking, both personal and business. Because the access to cash is free, we see people using our services like an ATM, withdrawing £10, £20, £30 at a time.

”I think people also feel safer depositing their cash at the Post Office, we’re a trusted brand, there’s always people around so you feel safe carrying that cash around. It’s also a generational thing. People are used to collecting their pension and cash credits from the Post Office, people are dependent on our services. It makes you feel like you’re really serving the needs of the community.”

Indeed this is what Patel believes is so valuable about having the Post Office within his convenience store. ”We’ve benefited vastly from having a Post Office, it’s generated additional footfall, and especially now we have our banking proposition.

”Our customers have the ability to pay their bill, return their parcel and grab a coffee all in the same place – everything under one roof! Our Post Office is our USP. We, and our customers, love it.”

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