Kajanarul Jeyapalan started the search for his first c-store in Kent last December, with leasing a unit the way forward for him. “Buying a property wasn’t an option because I wanted to invest in a full refit, and I knew that I couldn’t afford to do both.”

Eventually, Kajanarul was drawn to a pub in Strood, which had been closed for several years. “I looked at a few different properties, but ended up choosing the Red Lion. There are a lot of pubs on the market, especially since the recession took hold, and they are usually well located. This one is in a great location on a main road in the town centre. There is a school nearby, as well as two pubs and a doctor’s surgery, so I knew that it would have strong footfall.”

Although there was a multiple located close to the property, the Red Lion was too good an opportunity to turn down. “There is an Asda about 200m away, but this didn’t worry me as it is situated on a big hill, which makes it much less accessible than my unit.”

There were various hoops to jump through before Kajanarul could set up shop. “We had to apply to the council to ask permission for the building to be used as a retail outlet, but this was relatively straightforward. It took two months for them to accept our proposal.”

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Name: Kajanarul Jeyapalan

Symbol: Best-one

Location: Strood, Kent

Size: 1,200sq ft (including stock room)

Opened: February 2012

Previously: a pub

He opted for a 20-year leasehold on the property, and initially additional costs seemed minimal. “I had to pay for the building insurance when I signed the lease, but the landlord took care of most of the paperwork.”

Unfortunately, after signing the lease, he ran into a rather nasty pitfall. “I signed the lease and then found out that there was no power supply and no electricity meter. I had to pay £7,000 to get this installed, which was a lot of money I hadn’t banked on paying, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.”

As well as paying £1,000 a month on rent, another cost to consider was business rates. “Ours came in at £5,400 a year, but we applied for rate relief and got 50% off.”

Once Kajanarul received the keys in January, the fun could start. “We were then able to invest in a £50,000 refit, supported by Best-one, and opened for business in February,” says Kajanarul. “Customers have been really pleased to have a new store, especially the older people who no longer have to struggle up the hill to Asda to do their shopping. People are also happy because the building is no longer empty and the area is being invested in.”

A key benefit of this particular property is that there is the flexibility to buy it at a later date. “The landlord has said he will sell me the property in five or six years’ time if I am in a position to buy, so this is something I’ll consider nearer the time.”•