Harry Goraya
Rosherville Post Office, Gravesend, Kent

With 20 years in retail, Harry knows what is needed to make his store a success and has invested heavily in food to go and chilled produce

Chris Mitchener
Swan Street Stores, Hampshire

As well as running his own thriving convenience store, Chris provides alcohol training for other retailers through his company, Licensing Solutions

Dee Sedani
Londis News R Us, Etwall, Derby

Constantly innovating, Dee has come up with a number of ideas to take his business forward, including media screens and an automated coin counter

Bob Gibson
Premier, Basingstoke, Hampshire

Bob has a keen eye for trend-spotting and when he saw that people were becoming more green-fingered, he opened a garden centre at the front of his store

How much of a priority is the environment for your business?

Harry: We place quite a high priority on the environment, but unfortunately due to a lack of awareness among our customers, we're fighting an uphill battle.

Chris: For anything we have control over, such as operations and equipment, it's a big priority.

Dee: I'm 100% behind it it's very important to me.

Bob: It's not my top priority, but when I'm upgrading the store then I look at green initiatives.

What are your key reasons for wanting to adopt environmentally friendly equipment and initiatives?

Harry: Reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment are my main reasons just because you can't see a problem doesn't mean it's not there. You can save money, too, but that's secondary.

Chris: It's only logical to do what you can to help the environment so that it's there for the future.

Dee: It's great for your business to have something to shout to customers about, as well as being able to save money and reduce energy consumption.

Bob: If I'm honest it's really about saving money for me.

Where do you go to for advice on making your store more environmentally friendly?

Harry: There's the Carbon Trust, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty they're not as much help as I would like. I spoke to them about getting funding for energy efficient lighting and refrigeration. But what they didn't explain until it was too late was that you had to apply for the funding before you made the changes.

Chris: The Association of Convenience Stores has a great website. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents is another good source.

Dee: I use Google for everything the internet is a great resource.

Bob: If someone came to the store to sell me an energy saving product then I'd consider it, but I'm too busy day-to-day to take time out to seek specific advice.

What types of eco-friendly kit have you invested in?

Harry: We were having major concerns with double electric doors as the outside air they were letting in was stopping the air-con from functioning. Instead, we've constructed an L-shaped lobby which has saved us a lot of money. Six months ago we launched a carrier bag campaign charging customers 5p a bag. We've also installed energy efficient lighting and refrigeration.

Chris: Two years ago we started charging 5p for carrier bags and the money went straight into a charity box. We re-emphasised the initiative just last week and started charging 10p a bag. We're also planning a refit and we're looking at energy efficient lighting.

Dee: We've had light sensors costing £350 fitted in the staff areas, and plug timer switches, too.

Bob: We've had slimline energy saving light tubes installed as part of a major refit two years ago. We also had blinds put on our open chillers to save energy being lost overnight.

How have you benefited from this?

Harry: We've made savings of 15,000 kilowatt hours a year, which equates to £3,000-£4,000. I've saved money on carrier bags too, but many people took offence to being charged so we don't really push it now.

Chris: With plastic bags we're down from four or five cases to just one.

Dee: The light sensors pay for themselves over three years. The plugs are the same.

Bob: By stopping the cold air escaping, the blinds are undoubtedly saving me money, although I don't know the exact amount.

What is your biggest environmental concern going forward?

Harry: Energy costs are a problem. My costs have gone up almost 100% over five years. I'm not using any more than I was to start with and I'm introducing more energy saving equipment and it's still not enough.

Chris: The cost of energy is an issue. It is continually rising so we need to find more ways to reduce energy waste.

Dee: There's nothing you can do about rising costs or the global situation just worry about the things you can change.

Bob: Everything is electric at our store and energy costs are rising.

What would you say to retailers who think that forking out on environmental equipment and processes is a waste of money?

Harry: In these tough times you have to decide whether your business can sustain costs for environmental equipment. The government wants you to implement these things, but it's always double or triple the cost of not doing it!

Chris: They're right that it is expensive. You just have to look into it, assess it and make the right decision for your business information is key.

Dee: It depends on your personal belief. I don't really get anything back on the cardboard baling machine, it's just the right thing for me to do.

Bob: It's not a waste of money. If you're starting from scratch or changing your equipment then it's always worth looking into eco-friendly options.
How do you manage your waste?
Harry: At the moment we get our cardboard collected separately, but we're looking into a machine that crushes cardboard into bales. 

Chris: We have a cardboard compactor on lease for £100 a month. The compactor has a two-fold impact now we get through only one bin a week, rather than between four and six. Also, we're not paying for extra bins so that's £200 saved a month. 

Dee: Food waste is recycled at the local tip, and we have £2,500 cardboard baling machines in both stores. 

Bob: We have a contract with Basingstoke Skip Hire. We don't have much waste as we're only a small store just one bin for packaging and one for food.