Lohethasan has owned a bright and bustling Premier News Express store in an affluent part of Cobham, Surrey for the past nine years

What were you doing when we interrupted you?

I’m serving on the till at the moment but it’s lucky as you’ve caught me during our quietest time of the day, the kids have just started school, the mums are in the cafes, and the early lunchtime trade won’t start for a couple of hours yet. I’ve just noticed my Nestle rep pulling up outside though so that should keep me busy for a little while.

What time did you start work this morning?

The same time I do every morning 5am. I have to get here early as we do quite a big paper-round so it takes a while to sort out. I won’t leave her till gone 9.30pm this evening. It’s a long day but it does fly by as I have so much to do in the day. During the week I’m the only person the works in the store, so I have to do absolutely everything. I like it that way though, plus it keeps my staff costs down which at the moment is really important given that the national minimum wage keeps on rising.

How’s business?

A little slower than it was this time last year, but nothing to worry about. I do find that the weather has a huge impact on our business and with it having been quite misty and wet sales have been slower this week than normal. This is an affluent area and many of the large houses employ gardeners who come to us for the lunchtime snacks, bit of course they don’t really work in the rain.

The same goes for builders there’s quite a lot of developments going on around here at the moment but damp weather slows things down there too.

How long have you been a retailer?

I’ve always worked in retail, having started off as a sales assistant at a petrol forecourt, however nine years ago I decided that I wanted to own my own store, and so with the help of Premier I opened up here. It’s the best decision I ever made. Four years ago I extended the store quite considerably to the rear, enabling me to offer a much wider range of groceries and a hot food to go offer which is really popular with the builders, gardeners and general passing trade.

Do you involve yourself in any community events?

We support the local school wherever possible and will probably do something for Christmas although at this point I’ve not decided what yet. I should really get my skates on!

What’s the best thing about being a retailer?

I know everyone says it, but it’s the diversity, and also the customers. There’s a great community of people here and I really enjoy chatting with everyone and hearing their news.

And the worst?

Costs, which just keep on rising. It’s a constant struggle to keep them down.