Credit Yaruta via GettyImages_Watering sunflowers

Source: Credit Yaruta via GettyImages

Kay Patel, Best-One Global Food & Wine, East London

Amit Patel, Go Local Sandiacre, Nottingham

Leslie Francis, Enham Village Post Office & Stores (Spar), Andover, Hampshire

Jaz Ali, Premier Grangemouth, Scotland


Kay Patel, Best-One Global Food & Wine, East London

I joined in 2006, I’m the longest-serving person in Best-One! I’m going to be honest with you - since all this evolution, all the [Bestway] purchases of the new companies - Costcutter and all that, Best-One has been on the back burner for a while. But now I see things changing. 

Their strengths lie in their cash and carry business. I’m on a new panel about the future of Best-One and we’re talking about how they can actually improve it and drive it forward. They’ve taken on board a lot of our ideas on how we can make the symbol better for us existing members and obviously attract new ones. They’ve implemented quite a few things, mainly around range to begin with. The [newly re-launched] Best-In own-label range is good. Best-One wasn’t doing so well across the whole of the estate. I think people want Best-In back, especially the cash and carry customers, but it works for us. So we’ve swapped it all out as much as we can, all the products aren’t out yet though, there’s still some in production, but hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have the full product range.

Stores that are in town and city centres that have a lot of these cash and carries about, our competitors will be primarily going to cash & carries to pick up their goods. So their pricing and their range will be slightly different to ours if we’re [using] a traditional delivered supplier like Nisa. But this lets us compete directly with them because it’s basically coming from the cash and carry, isn’t it? And it will be at those prices or near enough.

One of the things [I need] is an ethnic range because my stores are in London, so we have West Africans, we have Polish, we have Asians etc. I need all those spices, so a normal planogram or a normal range that one of the other symbols would give, wouldn’t really work in my store. I have to dedicate a lot of space for ethnic drinks, food, spice and whatever. And it’s available in depots in London. So, our range from Best-One should reflect that. And that’s what we’re looking to do.

Speaking to [Bestway retail director] Jamie Davison, has instilled a lot of confidence in me, he’s a go-getter. We were on a Zoom call about certain issues in the range and overnight when I looked at my system, he had implemented the change, so yeah, it’s good.

What we’ve talked about over the last six months and they are working on it, it’s a viable proposition and if you don’t want to be Nisa or Costcutter, Best-One is for a true independent.


Amit Patel

Amit Patel, Go Local Sandiacre, Nottingham

So we’ve been officially a Go Local store since the 18th of February last year. I wasn’t being supported as a Premier and the amount of attention they [Parfetts] were giving me when they found out I was available was really good. I can ring up any of the reps any time of day and I get whatever I need.

They’ve always backed me in whatever I want to do. So if I want to do giveaways and stuff, they’ll help me as much as they can. And if they need to put me in contact with suppliers, they can do that too.

We get two deliveries a week. They’re both relatively smooth. They’re not as efficient as Booker Premier, but to be fair, for the difference in cost of the delivery system, we’ll take it.

As retailers, we genuinely generally moan a lot anyway. So everything’s the cash and carry’s fault! But they take it on the chin quite well.

We were getting our deliveries at very erratic times, so I politely asked them to sort it out and they have since then. It took a little while, but they sorted it and now we get all of our deliveries in the mornings.Their strength lies in not being too pushy and letting us do what we want. We’re tied to our promos and our epos system ties us to the promos too, but outside of that, we can do whatever we want and we’re not pressurised to appease the symbol. Every Go Local is very independent, not like every Premier which is more rigid in terms of its structure.

They could improve on fresh on deliveries. That’s probably where we’re lacking. But we’ve taken that hit as a compromise. We don’t get our fresh from Parfetts or Go Local, we go to another source. But in exchange, we can shop more freely and we’ve got less waste.

They keep coming out with a new own brand product every week. They’ve got cereals coming out now, they had energy drinks last week. I think they’ve got crisps coming back in, which I think is great. We need to offer more [value] options. We are still in a cost of living crisis. And the products that they’re bringing out are directed towards sales, they’re not directed towards getting their name out there. These are football driving, they’re not products that are going to be sat on the shelf for a long period of time. They’re focussing on the right products, they’ve done their research.

Go Local retailers are all forward thinking. We all know what we want to do, and we’re trying to move towards the same thing, which is sales [growth].

They [Parfetts] want us to all be uniform with our [promotional] offerings, but they want us to all have individuality as well. I can’t really say a bad thing about them because they’ve supported me so well and I feel and understand their energy.


Enham Village Store_Leslie and Tim celebrating 18 years

Leslie Francis, Enham Village Post Office & Stores (Spar), Andover, Hampshire

I’ve been with Spar for about seven or eight years. Appleby Westwood is in the West Country and we’re about the furthest North that they serve. The reason that we chose them was because … they have their own stores and they have their independent groups and then they have independent sole proprietors like myself and everybody is treated equally. [They look at] how can they help grow your business and in turn grow theirs. They are very community minded. The ethos is all about the store and the people and that’s really what attracted us to them because that’s the way we are here. 

I am a Wessex Guild member, so I represent this area and support retailers if they need it. The whole idea of the Guild is to work towards the benefit of everyone’s business. 

Spar definitely listens, in terms of housekeeping, invoicing or product line ideas or suggestions and working with other independent companies as suppliers, they obviously negotiate the terms and the product lines from them. They listen to what individual retailers want to make their business a success and accommodate where they can.

They have an absolutely brilliant team. The management all the way down through through the tiers have got absolutely the right attitude. It is so much a team effort and that filters all the way through from the top all the way down to the people that pack the cages. There have been trials and tribulations since covid because of supply and demand. When there was a staff shortage, the office people, the reps, the merchandisers, they all went into the depot so that we got our deliveries. They all take a really proactive approach, so it’s very much a team effort. There’s been lessons learned about that, so there’s a contingency put in place for the upturn in the weather, for example. You can tell every best effort is made. And if it’s not and they fail, then they hold their hands up and they address it and resolve it.

They have a Spar range of products, which is superb. The difficulty is since covid some of the manufacturers have shrunk their workforce and are concentrating on core lines, so I think there is a need for more of the Spar range at a competitive price, but the challenges that are in the marketplace for those suppliers are very real and it’s a continuous battle that that they have to try to push more Spar lines through. You have to commit to the volume to make sure to get the competitive price and the right product line. So it’s not that we’re short of anything. It’s the fact that there’s more opportunity to have more of Spar lines because categorically the quality is always there. 

In this world, there are a lot of challenges in terms of availability, price, production … but I know that they’re working hard for me, so I’ll continue to support them in their efforts to do that because it works both ways.



Jaz Ali, Premier Grangemouth, Scotland

I’ve been with Premier for about 15 months now. They’ve been very supportive of us. Before, in my old shop I was a Nisa member and it’s day and night by comparison. I just need to lift the phone up, anything you want done or anything you need, they’ll do it for you there and then. Plus the RDM [regional development manager] is in contact every week or every second week and he’s popping into the shop to see if you need any help, support or guidance, they’re very good. I would advise anybody to join Premier. I think they’re one of the best groups out there at the moment.

They do listen to you, they take it on board. We usually have a conference call once a month with myself and quite a few other retailers and the Premier guys. Any issues we just tell them over the phone and it gets dealt with straight away. Myself and a few other Premier retailers have a WhatsApp group. In my group we’ve got the Premier RDM and [Booker sales director] Martyn Parkinson, [retail development controller] Barry Forbes, the depot manager. When you put something on that, everyone sees it and it gets done straight away. Before, at the start I had a few delivery issues and Martyn suggested setting up the WhatsApp group and since then it’s been absolutely brilliant. 

I like the way they support retailers and the new concept they’ve got with Refresh and the vaping and the beer cave, it’s really good and it really works.

I would like to see them improve the chilled range a wee bit more. They kind of lack on chill, but I think they’re working on it. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve got Londis Direct as well, so I can get delivery from Londis too.

When you’ve got a good relationship with them and they go out of their way to help you, I think you you become a wee bit more loyal to them. I’d say 80% of my stock comes from Premier and just 20% was somebody else. Their prices are good as well compared to other wholesalers, I’m very happy with Premier.