packsLast weekend I attended the CTN World show, as part of a contingent from Retail Express and our sister title, Retail Newsagent.

While there I met a number of retailers – some happy with what we do, some keen to tell us where we’re going wrong, and some who we had to explain the benefits of the title, and indeed the trade press to. As Abraham Lincoln said, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. That won’t stop us trying though!

One of the retailers I spoke to at the event really struck a chord with me. Nilesh Patel owns a store in south London. Nilesh sold a lot of plantain crisps – essentially, crisps made from the banana-like fruit plantain rather than potatoes, and popular across tropical areas of the world – until his regular supplier moved on, leaving him unable to source this popular product.

So what did he do? Stock another product in their place? Try and source a new style of plantain crisps from somewhere else? No, Nilesh has joined forces with some business partners and set up their own business, Treetop Treats, to make their own plantain crisps.

This might seem like a dramatic course to take, but Nilesh has spotted a gap in the market for independent retailers like himself and those in his area and taken decisive action. There probably aren’t many who could do what he has done, but it’s just one more way in which independent retailers can move quickly to give their loyal customers what they want.

The new business can be found at