Hamdy’s News: ‘Our store is a community asset’

The owners of Hamdy's News are building on a legacy that stretches back more than three decades with a continued family-friendly approach.

The owners of Hamdy’s News are building on a legacy that stretches back more than three decades with a continued family-friendly approach.

Former owner Hamdy Shahein famously led the fight to prevent newsagents from being forced to sell adult magazines, he battled trading standards during the Olympics over product display bans and successfully stumped Sainsbury’s attempt to open a nearby store.

New co-owner Muhammed Patel says living up to the store’s reputation is crucial for his business. “Our customers were happy that it was us that took over, and that we had also pledged not to stock adult magazines or alcohol. They want a place where they are happy for their children to shop, a family-friendly shop.”

The three co-owners each have extensive experience in different aspects of local retail and are using this to create a store that fulfils as many shopper missions as possible. It features news, stationery, magazines, gifts, confectionery, soft drinks, DIY and electronic accessories.

Muhammed says they are able to manage such a large range of suppliers by becoming specialists of the different sections. “Everybody has their own section. One of us does magazines and drinks, the other cards and stationery and I do the gift section. It means each person has a strong responsibility and allows us to be more specialist and to know more about what we sell.”

The approach has helped the store owners identify opportunities outside of the usual newsagent categories, such as jewellery. “We’ve just added it so it’s small at the moment but it’s doing very well. We’re on our fourth order already,” he says.

Giving each section the right amount of space is a challenge. “It’s not the finding new lines, new suppliers or new ranges that’s the problem, it’s the space. To make the most of this we have good supplier delivery terms and hold a very limited amount of stock, both to improve cash flow and to allow us to quickly review the lines that we are selling. Anything that doesn’t sell goes,” he says.

Great supplier agreements further improves the use of space in the store, even allowing staff to sell goods that they can’t stock. Muhammed explains: “We can’t stock every printer ink and toner, but we can get any toner or ink delivered quickly, so we can sell the lines without committing permanent shelf space.”

The mix of categories stocked can appear unplanned but it all comes back to legacy. Stoke Newington is changing rapidly, property prices have increased by 1000% in 20 years and a new audience has emerged, bringing with it health shops and upmarket cafes. As many historic independent stores are priced out of the area, Hamdy’s ranges makes it the shop residents can depend on.

Muhammed says the format ensures the store is an asset to the community and also grows footfall by fulfilling niche shopper missions. “A customer may come in for a niche card or a lightbulb, and we can convert that into impulse purchases and bring them back with our other sections.”

Top tips

1.     Drive sales with Pick & Mix

The confectionery classic is a hit with adults as well as children. Muhammed says: “You’d be surprised at the number of people who pick up a bag after work.”

2.     Compliment the competition

 “Having many health food stores around us has actually helped our confectionery sales. A lot of people who buy health foods will still pop in for their favourite chocolate bar,” he says.  

3.     Make more from printing

As home printer ownership declines, stores with printing facilities can benefit. “The service is now very popular and it is predominately personal use that is driving the increase,” he says.

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