Costcutter Rendlesham and the secret of its success
Danny Stephan (left) and Mohammed Ziyad Ameer (right) turned a closed-down store into a thriving part of the community. Daryl Worthington finds out how
Danny Stephan and his business partner Mohammed Ziyad Ameer got the keys to their new store on 25 November 2018. On 5 December, Costcutter Rendlesham was open and ready for business.
“When we took over our new store, it was in a bad situation – it had been closed down for a couple of years and was completely empty,” says Danny. “We had to go from A to Z and put everything into the store, from shelves to new chillers.
“We could see the shop had potential. But it was hard work, we only had a small team, and the amount of time we had to get the store up and running was really tight.”
Danny and Mohammed had already set up several other shops around Suffolk, and they could see Rendlesham was in desperate need of a new convenience store. “People in the village had to travel miles just to get some milk,” Danny explains. “We felt a responsibility to give something to the area. Local shops are so important in places like this.”
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This desire to be involved in the community is a real driving force behind the store. “As soon as we moved in, we requested a meeting with the parish council, and we’ve developed a relationship with them,” Danny says.
“We always support local events with sponsorship, and giving prizes for raffles and things like that. In June, we got really involved in the Rendlesham Show.”
This in turn has seen Costcutter Rendlesham become vital for the local community. Much of the store’s demographic is retired people, and Danny says that more of these customers are using the store to do their weekly shop, rather than travelling further afield to a multiple.
“Our bestselling lines are chilled, frozen and grocery,” Danny says. “This is because customers are coming here to do all of their shopping.”
Since the store reopened in December 2018, footfall has increased by 33% and basket spend has doubled from £6 to £12. The developments included a big expansion of their chilled and fridge spaces, which was done with guidance from the team at Costcutter. In total, Mohammed and Danny invested £120,000 to transform the store and improve the range, as well as add seven metres of fridge space.
“You need to be online to promote your business” – Danny Stephan, Costcutter Rendlesham
Danny and Mohammed work hard to promote the store, sending out roughly 2,000 leaflets for seasonal promotions, as well as building their online presence, especially on Facebook.
“These days, everyone is attached to their phones,” says Danny. “So, you need to be online to promote your business. At the same time, it also makes it much easier for customers
to give you feedback.”
Building up a local selection is something else the store is doing, again taking on recommendations made by their customers.
“We get bread, sandwiches and fruit such as strawberries from local suppliers,” explains Danny. “Of course, with products like this, wastage is always a concern. That’s why we always push to get sale or return contracts with them – it gives you capacity to try new things.”
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Danny notes that some suppliers might be initially reluctant to work in this way, so he recommends inviting them in to see the store.
“Usually when they’ve come in, they’ll see we’re professional and they like what they see. Once they know you’ll be able to sell their products, they’re more likely to offer them on sale and return,” he says.
Danny always looks for new ways to improve his store, and meet the needs of the community around him.
Right from the start, they were getting requests from customers for more organic and gluten-free ranges. They quickly moved to meet this need, and now Costcutter Rendlesham proudly boasts a five-metre organic section.
“It’s a popular trend. The prices are a little higher, but it seems our customers don’t mind paying a little extra for these specialist products,” explains Danny.
“Every week, you have to create something new, move things around or try new products to see what works,” he says. “The world changes quickly and you need to keep up.”
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