Amish Shingadia’s Londis Caterways store in Sussex was crowned best shop by the Independent Achievers Academy in 2016. Three years on, the store has had to change considerably, Steve Denham reports

Caterways is located west of the town centre in a residential area of Horsham in West Sussex. Amish Shingadia took over the store in early 2015 after it had been voted the worst store in Sussex. Families in the local community had been actively stopping their children from using the shop because of the attitude of the previous owner.

“The store is in the centre of a residential area and has plenty of competition including a Tesco Extra and large Sainsbury’s within a mile of us. We also have a Co-op within a quarter of a mile,” Amish says.  

stat1.jpgWhen he took over the store, his first task was to correct the relationship that the store had with the community and build a product range that his potential customers wanted to buy. 

Under its previous owner, 70% of sales had come from tobacco and cigarettes, which had a disastrous effect on profitability. In the first few months of his management, sales grew by 75% as he brought a different style and range to the business.

The remodelling and refit that took place towards the end of 2015 changed the way customers used the store further, not least by moving the entrance to encourage a much better shopper experience. A Post Office Local counter was added to the offer and made the store a destination. The new design brought a further 70% leap in sales.

The second year saw turnover grow by a further 30%, helped by adding the Cook range to the store’s ready meal offer, expanding alcohol and introducing more chillers. It also brought success with the Independent Achievers Academy.

Amish says: “When I collected the Overall Best Shop trophy at the 2016 Independent Achievers Academy Gala Dinner it was for my team and community. I was very proud that the transformation had been recognised, but it had been a team effort.”

Since 2016, Amish has not sat back and has continued to evolve the site. One of the focuses for continuing improvement is driven by the challenges of the stiff competition in Horsham. There is a new Co-op store that opened in the past 12 months and the Budgens has been refurbished. 

The drive for continual growth has seen Amish undertake an update to the store layout, focusing on vaping products at internet prices and hot food to go. A new customer service champion role has also been added to the store team. 

“We have continued to survey our customers to better understand how they want to use the store and how this is changing,” Amish says.

Customer surveys are not the only tools that he employs, as the store’s improving performance is based on the strong foundations that his mission statements and an annual set of strategic objectives provide. 

Amish ensures he and his team share in the responsibility of delivering the goals and each member of the store’s leadership team have objectives they take ownership of. 

The activity has not gone unrewarded as sales have continued to grow with a further year on year increase of 20%.

The store objectives are:

  1. Develop store to maximise on sales, profitability and net income, measured by financial performance indicators.
  2. Develop store system and management delegation of store. Amish and store supervisors are accountable.
  3. Local community working. The entire store team is accountable.
  4. Achieve consistent 100% in customer service programme and age-related purchase.
  5. Achieve industry recognition for excellence.

Compared to 2015, Londis Caterways has been transformed with its continuing focus on delivering for its community.

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