Dipak and Jayshree Shah compete by having a better range and service

In just 18 months of trading, Dipak and Jayshree Shah have enough awards to fill a trophy cabinet, and it’s not surprising, Retail Express finds out more

In just 18 months of trading, this husband-and-wife team have enough awards to fill a trophy cabinet, and it’s not surprising. 

This small newsagent outperforms many other seasoned operators when it comes to store standards, community engagement and category management, a combination that has won them a loyal local following. 

The couple outlined their routine, with Jayshree telling Retail Express: “We make sure to keep the store clean, as it’s important in terms of how customers think of us, especially with so much competition nearby. 

“We try and have a little sweep and a clean every 10 minutes or so when possible, partly because we get a lot of construction industry trade, so it can get quite muddy, but also because it makes it a manageable part of the day.”

Dipak adds: “We each look after different categories in the shop – it allows us to specialise in the areas we are strongest in.” 

The store also benefits from the financial expertise of their economics graduate son, Sachin, and their daughters, Pooja and Reema, who hold senior positions in London city firms.

This approach of becoming experts in their respective areas, and complementing rather than competing with other nearby shops, has helped them outperform their big-chain rivals. 

Discussing the local area, Dipak says: “It’s a high-footfall area, so we could provide elements like coffee to go or bakery, but there’s also plenty of competition. We’ve got most of the major fast-food chains and some cafés close by, which limits the feasibility of food to go.”

Local competitors include WHSmith, Greggs, McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s. Asked how they make their mark, Dipak reveals: “We have to make sure we can provide a better range, better service and competitive pricing. It’s all about finding the niches where you can add value to the consumer that they can’t get elsewhere. 

“We open half an hour before WHSmith and, because of that, we take a lot of the morning traffic. 

They also pride themselves on providing lines that customers cannot find nearby. “Take our tobacco category as an example – we’re the only ones here that sell Vogue Green and liquorice papers, and we have customers that will travel past our rivals because of it. 

“The same goes for our pricing in this category, where we aim to be the cheapest. In both these areas, we know we can be better than our local Sainsbury’s.”

Asked how to identify these niches, Jayshree answers: “Most straightforwardly, when they ask if you’ve got something in stock and you don’t have it, but also when you introduce a new product and there’s instant demand for it. An example is Ritter Sport. We started off with just one variety but ended up with six when we saw how well it does.”

Despite the trophies and certificates, it’s the work they do with the community which makes them most proud, with support for local events and causes including local arts festival Camfest.

Top tips

Use news to grow basket spend

“We use the news category to grow our basket spend. We offer our home news delivery customers the option to have additional products delivered such as wine and chocolate,” Dipak says. 

Engage with reps

“We have a visit per month from all of the major confectionery and tobacco suppliers, and I think that’s because we work with them to make their promotions work in our store,” she says. 

Talk to your customers about new products

“When we were promoting Riverstone and Blu pods, we prioritised switching customers over to a new brand that others may not be selling as it secured their custom,” Dipak explains.

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