Allanton Post Office and Premier DB Retail @ Damside
260 Allanton Road, Allanton, Shotts, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5AQ
Postmaster Omar Nasir, who already operates two other Post Office sites, opened the new branch in an area he believes was in real need of the service.
“Residents were really annoyed when the branch was removed because there is nothing nearby. It’s been open two and a half weeks, and we have already dealt with a lot of business banking,” Omar explains.
“This shop and Post Office are ideally located for residents, businesses and passing trade,” Omar adds. “We are on the A71, the second busiest A road in Scotland, with lots of passing traffic. We are fortunate enough to have plenty of parking, so the Post Office is in a more convenient location than ever before.”
The grand opening of the new store was attended by members of the community and the area’s local member of parliament (MP), Anum Qaisar, and member of Scottish parliament (MSP) Neil Gray.
Qaisar, Scottish National Party MP for Airdrie and Shotts, explained at the grand opening on 4 March: “The reality is that retail units like this are absolutely vital in our local communities. The social aspect is really important as well for local people to come, meet the postmaster and build up that strong relationship.
“We have already seen a significant amount of footfall and that further demonstrates exactly why we need retail units like this, and I am really excited to see what happens next.”
Lee and Demi Bannatyne from Allanton are running the business and café on a day-to-day basis with their extended family. It is their first foray into retail, but they are determined to provide a strong offer for their community.
What we do well
Lee adds: “We wanted to launch a lot of other services alongside the Post Office to bring as much as we can for the community, and to prioritise bringing the Post Office branch back.
“We wanted to offer a range for all ages, like the Costa Coffee for the older people, as well as offering a big soft drinks range and American candy choices for children. We wanted to offer as much as we can to be able to cater for all ages in the community.”
Lee notes it’s important to cater for everyone in the community and keep on top of the popular products.
The challenges we face
Lee and Demi were both new to retail when they made the choice to take on the challenge of running the business. With Lee having a background in refrigeration and Demi working for the NHS, the couple decided to enter the retail industry after being influenced by Omar’s experience of running a store.
“It was a stab in the dark for us as neither of us have worked in retail before. I hadn’t worked a real till before in my life. The last time I did was a toy one when I was seven years old,” Demi says.
“It was overwhelming, especially making sure we got all the legalities and licensing correct as well as dealing with trading standards, which was stressful.
“I am struggling with the job satisfaction side of things as it’s different to what I’ve been used to, but you make it work once you get to know your community and speak and interact with customers.”
Choosing a fascia
With Lee and Demi focused on offering as many services as they could for the rural area, they had to do a lot of research before deciding which symbol group to join.
“At first, we were going to go with Day-Today, but my husband opted for Premier, and they have been fantastic,” Demi states. “They helped with our merchandising and have been helping us get to grips with everything, including dealing with trading standards.”
Lee reveals: “Premier were really supportive with the opening and the launch. They helped to pay for the new signage at the front of the store and paid for an extra fridge to be added in.
“They worked closely with us while preparing for the opening and helped to recommend what sort of product range would be best to offer to the passing trade, which was food to go. They offered us funding, which was extremely helpful.”
The changes and their impact
“We are also opening the café attached to the site in the next few weeks,” says Demi. “Anything you can take away, we will be serving, which will be freshly prepared and served on site.”
The attached café is still undergoing a refurbishment and will likely be open in a matter of weeks.
“My cousin, who owns a pub, is going to be running the kitchen. We have a lot of HGV drivers that drive on the road we are situated on, and there isn’t anywhere for them to stop and get something to eat,” Demi says.
“We have a one-way parking system which will be really beneficial for them.”
However, just 0.3 miles away, the Spar store now offers its own food-to-go range, replacing where the Post Office branch once stood.
Demi continues: “Although Spar have started offering their CJ’s food to go, the parking is a little trickier there.”
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