‘Identifying my community’s needs boosted sales by 50%’

Retail Express interviews Philip Constantine, store manager for Nisa local, Hither Green on how he expanded his stores in the South east.

Despite owning his Nisa Local store for little over a year, Philip Constantine has already implemented a number of changes that have seen sales rocket by 50%.

Philip’s career in retailing began in 2007, and less than a decade later he boasts a business that consists of four stores in the south east. His first store remains unaffiliated, while his second and third purchases operate as Premier stores. Philip bought his fourth shop in January last year, and traded independently until November.

Nisa Local, Hither Green, London
  • Hours: 7am-11pm Monday-Saturday, 8.30am-10.30pm Sunday
  • Trading since: January 2015
  • Size: 1,250sq ft
  • Staff: Three full-time, two part-time
  • Style: A convenience store in a small parade of shops, opposite a busy commuter station

“I aimed to transform the store into a Nisa as soon as possible so that I could expand my product range,” Philip says. “I always knew I wanted the shop to become a Nisa Local, as it was the most compatible option with the location,” he says.

He came to that conclusion by identifying the shop’s customer demographic. “In the mornings and evenings, shoppers tend to be commuters with plenty of money on their hands,” he says.

“They generally spend good money on high-quality products, especially wines and liqueurs.”

While Philip’s customers are mostly city workers, he is also regularly visited by schoolchildren and older people doing their weekly shop.

“Nisa’s range fits that specification because of the variety it offers,” he says. “Before the store was a Nisa, I couldn’t stock wines to suit all tastes. Now I take pride in my wine shelf, as it offers something for people who know and love quality wine.”

As well as having more access to high-end items, Philip is also able to utilise Nisa’s promotions.

“I now have a Nisa till system in place, which allows me to download their promotional material in minutes and put posters up ready for the next day,” he says.

The installation of Nisa’s systems came as part of what is arguably the biggest change the store has seen: a £100,000 refurbishment, which Philip claims has led to a 50% increase in sales. Trading under Nisa has also increased footfall by allowing Philip to improve his food-to-go offering.

“Food to go attracts shoppers – particularly because many of my customers are commuters,” Philip says. “Nisa’s products are high quality, look good, and have a shelf life of up to five days. People are obviously enjoying them, because I see them coming back and buying the same thing again and again.”

In order to maximise on the products’ success, Philip is launching a meal deal promotion at the end of June.

Although the store doesn’t need much help in terms of publicity – the location alone could provide him with enough trade – Philip has gone above and beyond to provide a community service.

He sponsored the Christmas tree for Fuss, a local group behind community projects and events, and is also taking part in Nisa’s local fundraising project. These efforts began immediately after his takeover, with his first step being communicating with the locals.

“As soon as I took over, I asked the local community what I could do to improve our relationship,” he said. “The response was the suggestion that I could make the ATM free to use.”

Philip took that on board, and the cash machine no longer charges users £1.75. It now performs 10,000 to 13,000 transactions per month.

“Although I lost money by taking away the charge, it’s led to increased footfall and the locals are happy,” he says. “The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you must be able to identify your customers’ needs.”


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