The family who ran this convenience store for 24 years decided this year to move the whole set-up into a different unit, while also changing the fascia from Spar to Budgens. Kam Nijjer tells DRN why.

How did the business start?

It was a Spar shop in the village of Meriden which we ran for 24 years, then two months ago we moved the whole store into a completely new unit just down the road. It is a much bigger place, so that was one of the reasons for the move. The other is that we own the building and we are freeholders, rather than reporting to a landlord. He wouldn’t sell the old building to us.

What is the area and your competition like?

It’s a busy area and there’s only ourselves and a Co-op here. It is affluent and touristy. We are near the NEC, the airport, and lots of hotels and business parks, so a mixture of customers come here.

The Co-op is company-owned while we are independent. It means we can be more niche in our product range and we have a lot more locally- sourced goods. We have lots of local meats, cheeses, eggs and so on.

We also have excellent customer service, which gives us a point of difference. We are always hands on. We pack bags for our customers and take them out to the car if they want. Certain customers ask for certain items and we do our best to get them.

What changes did you make when you moved the store?

The new store now has more food- to-go and hot food. The mornings are now a lot busier as we have builders and office workers coming in before work and it’s given us a new clientele. We also have a Costa coffee machine, which has been surprisingly popular.

The old shop was a bit of a Tardis but it was awkward in its layout. You can now walk around the whole store without having to double back on yourself. We changed the layout and it’s all working as planned.

We changed to Budgens because we wanted to go more into fresh and it had a good offer that worked for us.

We have boosted our ranges of meat, fish, dairy and fruit and vegetables and these are the items you see when you first enter the store. Budgens has a good fresh range that works well against the Co-op.

Were you able to enhance your BWS offer?

BWS is one of the categories we increased in space and we have been able to give it more aisles as well as more chiller space. We can store more multipacks now.

We also have a back-lit spirits section behind the counter and we got rid of the whole cigarette gantry to do this.

It’s all very new and it looks good – you can see it easily when you come into the store. Champagne is in this area too and sales for both have gone up quite significantly.

It is an affluent area so we do sell nice bottles of Champagne and other premium products. We stock about 12 or 13 different Champagnes.

 What else sells well from BWS?

Gin does well and we have quite a few of these, including some local ones.

I am looking for a few more things like that from the local area. We have Chase vodka and we get quite a lot of comments about that and the fact it is made from potatoes, which seems to appeal. I think it’ll sell well for Christmas and I might start stocking the Chase gin too.

We have started chilling all of our lager and cider multipacks, which we couldn’t do before because we didn’t have enough room, but now we do. All the 10 and 12-packs are chilled.

We have some good offers on wine, such as three for £11.99, two for £14.99 and two for £11.99. We also have some higher-priced wines at the premium end, at points such as £18.99 and up to £26 per bottle. There is a market for those.

What are your plans for the future?

I do want to start offering meal solutions and this is something I am seriously looking into. So something like a pack of lager and a curry at a good price.

We also have space in front of the counter to do some seasonal displays so I will start doing more of that with drinks. At the moment we have cans of Disaronno pre-mixed drinks there at three for £5 as a new product promotion and these are doing really well. It’s a nice-looking product.

We are still finding our feet but sales are going up week by week. Last Christmas was one of the busiest we have had and I think it’ll be even busier this year. We are taking on more staff, partly to help in the morning with the hot food.