Narendra Singh Jadeja has never stopped improving his business in the 26 years he has been running it. He talks to Steven Lambert about how he is now preparing for the future

Despite having nearly three decades’ retailing experience under his belt, Narendra Singh Jadeja has never stopped in his pursuit to keep learning and improving his business.

The retailer has been running his store in Coppermill Lane in Waltham Forest for the best part of 26 years and has developed close community ties with neighbours and nearby residents to combat fierce competition from nearby multiples. Over that time, Narendra has also transformed his store from a 500sq ft newsagent into a 1,000sq ft Londis convenience store to keep up with shopper trends.

DSC_1593He says: “We have a busy high street just down the road from us where people do bigger shops. We’re more of an emergency top-up store but I have been introducing new things to pick up more sales.” 

Narendra says his business now is drastically different to the one he took over in 1989: “Back then we used to be a newsagent with 15 rounds selling basic products. After four or five years with some of our paper sales drying up, I decided that I wanted to start doing something different.”

After holding talks with symbol groups without much success, Narendra decided to take matters into his own hands by knocking into the property and garden behind his shop. This led to an increase in floor space and allowed Narendra to expand into more convenience-led product ranges.

“When we were looking for a group to join, we were told that we’d never be accepted unless we had an off-licence. So I managed to successfully apply for one and also added in a chiller and more groceries. A little while after that, we managed to sign up with Londis.” Narendra now gets two Londis deliveries a week, improving his availability and allowing him to take advantage of offers from the group.

Being located in a large residential area next door to two schools, a nursery and the Douglas Eyre sports ground, families, children and sports teams represent the bulk of Narendra’s footfall.

He says this influenced his decision early on to offer a large selection of impulse goods, including soft drinks and confectionery. “We have a big selection of chilled drinks and, just recently, decided to move the chiller from the middle of the store to the front.

“We saw an immediate effect on sales. During the hottest day we had this year we sold loads of soft drinks, and our total takings on the day were over £3,500.”

Narendra also engages with younger shoppers with two displays filled with £1 price-marked confectionery bags from all the major manufacturers, while children’s magazines are another big draw for pocket-money shoppers.

I now have the freedom to order and get in whatever I like while still offering a personal service to customers. And I’m still enjoying it after 26 years

He says: “A lot of parents like to treat their kids on a Friday so we keep topped up on the latest children’s magazines and remind customers about these.”   

With developments including a nearby wetlands park and a Waltham academy school due, Narendra says he is confident of even more trade in the coming months. He is preparing for this in a number of ways, including adding a Kepak microwave and a Jack’s Beans coffee machine.

He says: “We spoke to Smiths about the coffee machine and decided to take it on. With the warm weather, sales have been slow but I expect it to pick up in the winter.  We’ve also had lot of new properties pop up in the area, so I can see more builders and parents using it.”

By ignoring larger high street competition and satisfying the immediate needs of locals, Narendra’s Coppermill Lane Londis has gone from strength to strength and looks set to continue growing in the future.

He says: “I now have the freedom to order and get in whatever I like while still offering a personal service to customers. And I’m still enjoying it after 26 years.”

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