After almost 21 years, it’s finally time to hang up my cash and carry clip-board and retire. It’s been an amazing journey and I could write a book about all the good and bad times I’ve experienced along the way.
I opened my first store in 1991, just wanting to be an ‘Arkwright’ type of retailer, running a corner shop serving the community. That didn’t last long. My workload tripled when I expanded to three shops, but with enthusiasm and age on my side, I was up for the challenge.
I have always remained fiercely independent. I like to have my own identity, enjoy the decision-making and the risks, and apart from White Hart Lane, I am at my happiest when in a cash and carry.
So why stop now you ask? Age is a big factor. I’m 60 next year and am keen to enjoy the fruits of my labours. Second, and most significantly, the weight of legislation and bureaucracy that we are now burdened with had meant that I had lost some of my drive.
All I wanted was to run a shop, buy and sell goods and keep my customers happy. The reality was that I had to worry about the tax man, VAT man, environmental health officers, Trading Standards, licensing, Employment Tribunals, health and safety and so on. A few days ago I saw one of the covered-up tobacco gantries in a supermarket and that really summed it all up for me.
To close, I want to take the opportunity to thank a few people. Most importantly, my staff – I couldn’t have done it all without them. My manageress Sue Grainger has been a rock for 18 years, never letting me down. Next, to Booker and the countless depot managers and staff who have also supported me over the years. Then to Paul, Howard and Jason from Imperial Tobacco, who have given me invaluable advice and proved the importance of having reps out in the field. A word also for David Garrard of Christie + Co, who helped me through the various traumas of selling a business.
Last, a thank you to all those who took the time to read my ramblings, and to Convenience Store for publishing them.