With his five-year trading restriction finally at an end, independent retailer Wilson Rea opened the doors of his new 1,800sq ft Nisa Local store on the outskirts of Lanark in August 2012. Five years previously Wilson had sold three c-stores to the Co-op with a five-year no-trading clause as part of the deal.
His chosen site, on the forecourt of a busy Shell-owned petrol station and on the main road in and out of Lanark, is a former car showroom, and seemed perfect from the start. “The location was definitely the biggest selling point. In my opinion location should always be top priority when buying a store,” Wilson says.
However, despite the car showroom having been closed for four years, the owners were reluctant to sell. “I think they were holding out for an end to the recession, and harbouring dreams of re-opening,” says Wilson. However, after six months of talks Wilson convinced them, and an acceptance to purchase was secured in November 2011 for an undisclosed sum.
Name: Wilson Rea
Symbol: Nisa Local
Size: 1,800sq ft
Opened: August 2012
Previously: car showroom
Even though Wilson was confident that the location would be perfect, he still employed a local retail consultant. Says Wilson: “He compiled a 50-page report with vital facts such as the size of the population, who my competitors would be, projected average basket spend, and my projected turnover.”
The deal would see Wilson own the premises, as well as 60% of the forecourt, with Shell owning the remaining 40% as well as the pumps and kiosk.
“I then had to get class one retail planning permission in order to change the premises into a retail store,” Wilson explains. Six local objections were raised, but permission was granted in March 2012 on the condition that Wilson created 10 parking spaces. Nisa-approved Cruden Contracts of Fraserburgh was awarded the shopfitting contract and Wilson worked closely with it to create an offer that met the needs of the area as identified by his analysis.
“The main problem came with my alcohol licence,” he continues. “I applied on April 14, which coincided with the local elections. The licensing board then had to be reformed, and then all the councillors decided to have a one-month holiday. All in all, it meant that the first meeting of the licensing board wasn’t until August 17, just a few days prior to opening! I had 12 objections so had to employ specialist lawyers to fight my case. I then received a unanimous decision from the board.
“Barring those issues, and the major problem of our chosen chiller supplier falling into administration the week before delivery, the process went reasonably smoothly and we can now look forward to a successful trading future!”•