With a new store under their collective belt, the Shingadia family are well on the way to creating another successful business. And by focusing on food to go and foodservice, Ramesh Shingadia is confident of a strong future. Steven Lambert reports

Two years after the last refit at their Londis Southwater store, Ramesh, Alpesh and Nim Shingadia are now looking for the next “big adventure” on their retailing journey.

Not content with seeing sales leap by 20%, the family has since bought a second business in the nearby town of Horsham and is excited about the potential prospects this will bring.

_DSC_3196Ramesh says: “We bought the property in May and we’ve tried to apply the same principles there as we have in our Southwater store.

“From a low base we have grown sales by 40% in three months and we’re looking to give the store a complete refurbishment in the coming weeks.” 

To ensure the new store has a strong future, Ramesh says he will look to adopt the same four “pillars” in it that have proven so successful in his Southwater business.

The first concerns food to go and foodservice, something that has proven a big draw at the family’s flagship store over the past two years.

The Southwater business counts a combined Tchibo coffee machine, bake-off and hot food area strategically placed near the front of the store, with passing customers tempted in by the sight and smell of sausage rolls, chicken wings, freshly baked pastries and other treats.

These are all prominently displayed next to a chalkboard promoting various meal deals, such as a hot drink and sausage or bacon bap for £3.29.

This is complemented with a selection of hot loaves and artisan bread, which is presented on a bespoke, wooden display unit alongside fresh flowers.

“We offer breakfast, midday and lunchtime options, which has helped us to attract business throughout the whole day,” says Ramesh.

He is now looking to take this foodservice one step further at the Horsham store by setting up seating and tables outside the business.

“We’re hoping to have the same kind of hot food at the new store, where we also have a bit more space out the front. It overlooks a nice duck pond, so I think it would suit a more café-style environment.

“Also, we did some research with customers at the Horsham store and found 20% of the demographic is elderly, so it would be ideal for them.”

The second pillar concerns fresh and chilled produce, something that the Shingadias have been keen to exploit at Southwater.

We offer breakfast, midday and lunchtime options, which has helped us to attract business through-out the whole day

Wicker baskets for loose fruit and veg and small open chillers filled with lunchtime snacks located at the front of the store have helped to boost impulse trade. The family has also been keen to promote products from local suppliers such as the Real Pie Company in Crawley.

Ramesh adds: “Our chilled and fresh sales are in double-digit growth. We’ve also worked hard on reducing our wastage, and only 4% to 5% of our fresh and chilled produce is now wasted.”

The third pillar regards the post office, something that Ramesh is now considering for the Horsham store after growing loyalty and repeat business through his post office counter at Southwater.

He says: “We’re now training all staff to work at the post office and encouraging them to upsell post office products and bring great service to customers.”

The fourth and final pillar concerns the remaining categories in the business, ranging from beers, wine and spirits through to ambient products. Ramesh says this remains a work in progress at Horsham but adds he is continuing to gather shoppers’ opinions to help him with this.

He says: “While it’s just four miles up the road from Southwater, Horsham has a completely different demographic. We have to make sure the space allocation is right and ensure we are getting the right returns on all the categories.”

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