Part 1: I go to meetings to look for business opportunities

Mo Razzaq is constantly looking for business opportunities Hotel to convenience store conversation Booker Family Shopper

Some business opportunities are sometimes obvious to see and take up, while others have to be hunted down. I recently attended a Premier Retailer Group meeting that included a presentation on the conversion of a public house to a convenience store, and one about the first Family Shopper store in Wolverhampton. Both stories were very interesting in their own right.

I always take notes at every meeting that I attend. After each meeting I find some quiet time to read though the notes I have made and rewrite them with a list of key points. I then consider how any of what I have heard and learned can be used in my business.

I undertook my normal routine at this recent PRG meeting and afterwards I read through my notes and thought about how my business could benefit from what I had heard and learnt.

I had been think about adding a second store to my business, but not for at least 3 years. I also believed that finding the right site would be a challenge. The Pub-to-convenience store presentation made me think about the possibilities around my part of Scotland. The Family Shopper story suggested an interesting approach to doing local retailing. The meeting definitely gave me some action points!

Finding a site proved  much easier than I anticipated, as I knew of a hotel that had closed its doors  a year ago. With  assistance from Booker I got the CACI  data about the neighbourhood that confirmed that it has a similar mix to my current store. Of the 3,500 households in the catchment area of the hotel, more than 60% are below average income levels, and more than half the population is over 35 years old. These are my target customer groups.

The negotiations with the sellers proved to be quite simple. After my initial approach I invited them to visit my current store to allow them to see for themselves how I run my business and to talk through my plans to convert the hotel. The sellers were delighted with the business plan I put to them and the deal was done.

The 4,000 square feet ground floor of the former hotel will be transformed into a 2,450 square feet store and support areas. The bedrooms on the first floor will be converted into eight en-suite bedsits which will be rented out. Planning and licensing has been a straightforward process. The hotel had an off licence so stocking alcohol will not raise any issues.

The Booker team are supporting me every step of the way and I fully believe that their Family Shopper concept will provide me with a successful second shop. I already have a shop layout plan and know that we will be stocking around 1,400 SKUs. The majority will be Booker own brand products.

Business is about is about spotting opportunities, taking risks and turning them into successes. Having honed my retail skills over the past couple of decades at my store in Blantyre I am confident of success in my new venture. I will be looking at other aspect of the project in my next post.


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