Raw Store: ‘We’ve increased our fruit and veg take five fold’

he name above the door is just the beginning of the brand for owner Pav Sahota, and his newly-established Raw Store in East London.

Location: Old Street, London

Hours: 7am-12am Sun-Wed, 7am-3am Thu, 7am-4am Fri-Sat

Staff: 10

Size: 2,000 sq ft

Trading since: May 2017

The name above the door is just the beginning of the brand for owner Pav Sahota, who has focused on everything from ranging to training to atmosphere in his newly-established Raw Store.

Set in the notoriously trendy London district of Shoreditch, nearly every inch is filled with organic, diet-specific or local produce. Raw Store is the type of store Pav has always wanted to run. “I’ve always had a list of products I wanted to stock, I’ve had it since before I’ve even had a store,” he says.

However, it was only after running the premises in partnership with Nisa that he implemented it. “It used to be mainly fags, booze and a couple of grocery items,” he says. “We only had a tiny organic fresh section, but it was outselling all the other grocery chillers by a long way. It gave me the confidence to focus on organic.” It’s just a couple of months since the store reopened with the new brand, new look and new focus, but Pav’s confidence in it is already paying off. “As we’ve changed the range, we changed the demographic and our basket spend quadrupled,” he explains. “The people coming in are living a healthy lifestyle.”

Most noticeably, the store has gone from taking £400- £500 a week on fruit and veg to more than £2,500, and the audience shift is continuing to further shape ranging. “Our milk supplier told me this morning that my organic was now outselling my regular milk, so from today we’ll be stocking organic only,” he says.

Other than the financial benefit, Pav says there are other benefits of working with small, local suppliers. “Local suppliers look after you better than the bigger ones,” he says. “They’ll make sure the stock and quality is on point. If there’s anything wrong they’ll take it back without question and they’ll be rooting for you.”

This focus on quality, organic and unique produce is at the core of the Raw Store brand, and other aspects of the brand were designed to reflect this – right down to how the shop was fitted. Pav says: “A consistent brand includes keeping it all as natural as possible – the wood on the walls is all reclaimed materials from the 2012 Olympics, for instance.”

An early introduction to retail through his father’s shop motivated Pav to open his own store – mainly to implement the changes he’d always wanted to make, such as digitising the store and experimenting with the format.

After being taught the ropes by his father, Pav is now attempting to return the favour by showing his father how the convenience sector has changed. “It’s hard to get old school retailers to change, but I tell everyone that they need to do it. It’s the next generation of retail now,” he says.

When asked where he wants to be in a year’s time, it’s all about expansion, both in terms of stores and brand awareness. Opening at least one Raw Store, a range of merchandising and a foray into marketing are all top priorities.

Top tips

Hit the bullseye

Online advertising is a priority for Pav. He says: “My approach is to build a customer profile from each demographic and work out where they go, what they do and, most importantly, how we can reach them.”

Move it or lose it

Though the refit removed shelf space, it improved sales by getting rid of slow lines: “Everything in here has got to sell within two weeks, if it doesn’t we won’t be buying it again,” he says.

Keep your ear to the ground

Pav is always checking out local stores: “When I was on holiday in Rome and Venice I was always popping into shops, looking at what they offer, taking pictures and thinking about their customer journey.”

Visit my store


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