While the prospect of a new store opening or a renovation seems like an exciting project on the face of it, few people will know the extent of what a retailer has had to go through before landing the end result.

As we come to the end of the building works phase of our refurbishment project at Inkberrow in Worcestershire, we are now turning our attention to the aesthetics of the store. You might think that this would be the easy part. Wrong. The truth is that the intricacies of changing a fascia, shopfront or even exterior lighting are a big deal with local authorities. The fact that we are also trading in a conservation area makes it even more daunting.

A shop front has to conform to stringent planning guidelines. The Simply Fresh shopfront design looks amazing on paper, but I know it won’t pass the first stage in the planning process. So we have worked together to tweak the design to appease the planners. Even the fascia lighting has to be a row of outdoor lamps, rather than trough lighting. The good news is, however, that developing a relationship with the Parish Council over the past year has meant that they appreciate being kept informed of progress and support our new plans. This should hopefully go a long way with the planning officers at the council.

When extending, relaying or refurbishing a store, it’s also important that the local authority is informed and your application is renewed to include these changes. We have decided to use the services of Licensing Matters, who specialise in off-licence regulations, to help us on this matter.

It often pays to use the services of an expert because any error or omission of detail from us could set us back and jeopardise our alcohol licence. This is something no retailer can afford.

These are just some of the boring, but vitally important, parts of the story that are essential in conforming to the rules and regulations needed when modernising or extending.

So the next time you see a picture of a shiny new store opening or big refurbishment, be assured that the business owner has probably been through a whole load of red tape before 
they were able to smile and cut that red ribbon. 
I know I will have!