My Name is Dan Cocks and I own Premier Whitstone Village Stores in north Cornwall (near Bude). I have been here since 2007 and, while in a rural location, I service a large catchment area and am on a great main road location between the A30 and north Devon and Cornwall. My store is about 1,100 sq ft and I have the usual mix of grocery, fresh and frozen, as well as a large non-food area, post office, Lottery, Costa Express, food to go and ATM.
It is a privilege to have been asked to write for Convenience Store and share my forthcoming journey through expansion and modernisation of my store, or future-proofing as I see it.
Like most of you, I have seen this industry experience unimaginable change and while we have benefited from a general shift back towards convenience, we have also felt some of the most difficult challenges.
I was recently fortunate enough to acquire the freehold of my premises and, more importantly, that of the adjoining property, which currently is a three-bedroomed cottage. This has given me the opportunity to dream a little on what I could potentially do with another 600sq ft or so of space and double the frontage of my existing premises.
Throughout my time as a Premier retailer, I have met many leading retailers, attended all the best events as well as proudly serving as a member of the Booker Premier Development Group. All of this has given me inspiration and an education into the store I would not only like to operate as we head towards 2020 but, more importantly, need to in order to cater for the customer of tomorrow.
Ultimately, I hope we can bring more people through the door and encourage them to spend longer in the premises, while at the same time making their life easier.
So the big question: how? Physical elements will include an in-store bakery, sit-down coffee shop, a village pub, a big focus on fresh and crucially creating a destination where customer service will be the key, with every aspect focused on the customer mission.
We are still in the planning stage, but next time I write hopefully we will have detailed mock-ups of the new layout and initial work under way.