“I’m taking a course to teach me what alcohol to recommend”
Retailing was not always the plan for Dipesh Patel, but since joining the family business at the start of last year he has expertly tailored the store’s range to meet north London’s demanding and diverse customer base.
“I did a football studies course at university where I learnt how to manage a sports team. A lot of those skills I’ve been able to use in retail,” he says.
Location: Tufnell Park, north London
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Sat, 8am-10pm Sun
Size: 3,000sq ft
Trading since: July 2012
“We don’t drill information and rules into our staff like the multiples, we’re family run and we treat them with respect. We make sure our staff are friendly and welcoming.”
The store opened as a 500sq ft convenience store in the 1970s, and then expanded into the shop next door and changed to Londis in the early 2000s. Five years ago it became a Budgens to access a wider range of products.
Like any good football manager, when it comes to his range, Dipesh has not been afraid to bring in international talent, catering to the area’s high Spanish and Italian population.
“We recently spoke to Brindisa, a Tapas restaurant near Borough Market in south London, and started selling its meats. They’ve flown off the shelves. We also stock Italian pastries, like cannoli, which are big sellers.”
As well as different national cuisines, the store has to cater to the trends demanded by its affluent customer base, with gluten-free lines an important part of the range.
“People are more health-conscious than they were, but we have a lot of university students too. We cater to everyone by having a focused but wide range and a variety of prices,” he explains.
The quality of the products help the store stand out from the competition. When one customer asked if he could start stocking scones, rather than introducing packaged lines he sourced frozen ones to bake them fresh. The store is an Aladdin’s cave of interesting lines like seaweed pasta, Quinoa & Kale Puffs and £43 champagne.
“We have a wide selection of alcohol. We get asked by customers what goes well with certain lines so I’m now taking a course to teach me what recommendations to give.”
With Brexit looming Dipesh has had to deal with suppliers increasing their prices. “Our shoppers have mentioned that they can get certain products cheaper elsewhere so we’re trying to go for lower budgets as well with our own-label Euroshopper and Happy Shopper lines.”
But price pressure isn’t stopping the business from investing and competing. The team is looking for ways to bring its offer direct to customers’ doors.
“We’ve recently signed up to Deliveroo with Heineken’s Star Retailer scheme. We’d been wanting to do delivery for a while and was trying to figure out how to do it,” he says. “I really want to expand it to other lines. Milk and bread would be the next step because they are so essential.”
With more than 40 years serving the community under their belts, the family has outlasted the majority of the competition by making customer satisfaction its main goal. “When we make sure our customers are happy, everything else tends to work.”
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