The Coventry retail study tour: Jai Singh's viewpoint

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In the second of a three-part series, retailer Jai Singh explains what tips he took from a retail study visit to two shops in Coventry.

A couple of years ago when I was planning my store development, Steve Denham, associate editor at, suggested that I take a trip to Malcolm’s in Elm Tree Avenue, Tile Hill.

Steve felt there was a lot I could learn to help me make the most of the larger store that I was creating. When I was asked to be one of the retail ambassadors for NCS 2017 at the NEC, it gave me the opportunity to take the trip to Malcolm’s and the Uppal family’s One Stop at Mount Nod, which is less than a mile away. Avtar (Sid) Sidhu as also one of the NCS ambassadors and I invited him to join the tour.

Malcolm’s is in a comparable sort of catchment area to my store and I guess would have once been described as blue collar - the housing stock is also of a similar age.

When I looked on Google Maps satellite view I saw that the Cheemas have got more households within a quarter of a mile of them. They also have more competition including a Sainsbury’s, two Co-ops and several convenience stores less than a mile away.

I was keen to understand what makes Malcolm’s such an aspirational store. Here are the important lessons I took away with me:

Using the store forecourt

Its spring and Malcolm’s has a big offering of bedding plants and other garden items. Paul said they have been doing well with roses and shrubs this year. I made a note to look at how I can use the space in front of my store to add on sales during the year.


Action point: I will be taking a close look at the performance of every line and every category, and follow Paul and Pinda’s example of removing the poorest sellers to give space to the best lines.

Chilled and fresh

This is the area of my store offer that I have struggled with. Seeing the broad range that Paul and Pinda sell encourages me to think bigger and to investigate our supply chain.

Action point: The first step on our range development in this category is to strengthen the meat range and I have taken action to deliver this in the first few days back in my store.


The Cheemas are on a retail journey of constant change. Since I undertook my own store redevelopment in 2015, they have had the builders in to remove most of the sales floor pillars and added an in-store Post Office.

Although I am delighted with how my own business has grown since my store was relaunched in July 2015, I need to challenge the way I operate my business every day.

Action point: On the day that Mandeep and I launched our new store, Steve told me that we had reached the starting line of our next store project: delivering on our big investment. What I learnt from Paul and Pinda is just how change can and should be a continuous process - something I need to bring to my business.

The visit to see Aman and Joga Uppal’s One Stop store was equally useful, but I will let Joga tell that story.

In part three of the Coventry retail study tour series, find out what tips Joga Uppal took from the day.

See more: Part 1: The Coventry retail study tour: Steve Denham’s viewpoint

By Jai Singh Avatar
By Jai Singh 10 May, 2017



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