Store: Spar
Location: Seasalter, Kent
Budget: £200,000

Having conducted a refit every four years, Spar Seasalter owner Paul Hudson is a clear believer in the benefits of regular store development. However, at a total cost of £200,000, the recent conversion of his former 1,100sq ft Londis store in Kent to a 2,300sq ft energy-efficient Spar is his biggest to date.

“We’ve always had regular refreshes which help to keep the store fresh and interesting, but with this last one I was determined to make a big splash. Competition from Whitstable town centre was hotting up and I knew I needed to do something really big to fend it off and grow.

The way it was

The store was far less spacious with no room for food to go and chilled impulse offerings, making it hard to compete with others.

“Being in such a touristy area I knew that I had a significant opportunity to grow my food to go and fresh produce sales, so prior to the build I approached all the other symbol groups to see what they were offering. Spar just ticked all the boxes for me, and they were 100% supportive of my plans to extend, so after 10 years with Londis I decided to switch fascias.”

Paul was fortunate enough to own land at the rear of his store, enabling him to more than double the size of the unit a feat which would allow him to introduce a 15-metre off-licence, 18 metres of fresh food in energy-saving chillers, and a five-metre food-to-go counter.

“I had visited loads of newly made-over Spar and Budgens stores prior to my refit so when it came to it I had a clear picture of how I wanted it to look,” Paul says. “That and a rock solid business plan made securing a bank loan much easier,” he adds. Spar helped ease some of the financial burden by covering the £45,000 bill for Paul’s new low-energy Bond chiller cabinets.

The project, carried out by a team of local builders, took six weeks from start to finish, and Paul closed for just four days while the refurb was executed.

The store re-opened on July 17 2010 and turnover in the first week excluding services hit £35,600 more than £8,000 up on normal peak season trading.

Paul expects to see a return on his investment in just under three years. “I’m beyond thrilled with the results, and as my turnover figures show my customers clearly are, too,” Paul says.

The build
Paul was fortunate enough to have some spare land at the rear of his store which enabled him to extend it by more than half. He employed a team of local builders to undertake the job, which was completed ahead of schedule.

Paul decided to splash out on “revolutionary” GTI flooring by Gerfloor. The tiles, which can come with antibacterial properties, fit together like a jigsaw without the need for adhesive. Should a tile get damaged, which is rare, it can be replaced easily.

Personal touches
The beer, wines and spirits section includes an array of personal touches such as an ice freezer which has been cleverly integrated into the wine display. Wooden panelling adds to the classy feel.

Off-licence area
Extending the store enabled Paul to introduce a huge new alcohol section which is kept refreshingly cool behind environmentally friendly chiller doors. A pale wood floor and special pos help create a “shop within a shop” feel.

Wide aisles
Wide uncluttered aisles and low shelving add to the store’s light and airy feel, while also helping to avoid congestion in the aisles during the busy summer months when ice cream sales go through the roof.

Paul’s new wall chillers all have energy-saving doors to make the store as environmentally friendly as possible and save on running costs. Translucent green ‘Doors Save Energy’ signs alert shoppers to the change and explain why it has taken place.

Counter area
The counter was extended to allow room for three new tills - essential now that the store has made itself more appetising to holidaymakers. The low, uncluttered counter area has been designed to maximise interaction between staff and customers.