With loyal customers and a thriving business, things were looking good for Jamie and Anish Keshwara. But the thrill of the ‘future’ proved too tempting to resist. Steven Lambert caught up with the Whittlesey warriors

When Nisa approached Jamie and Anish Keshwara during the early stages of its ‘store of the future’ project, the brothers jumped at the chance to try something different at one of their two Nisa Local stores in Whittlesey, Peterborough.

“We’ve pretty much been involved from the initial stages,” says Jamie. “We had already been trading reasonably well in the business – we are near to a large council estate and have a loyal customer base with a lot of day-to-day shoppers – but we wanted to try something new.”

 

<figcaption>Introducing a little in-store theatre, like small trolleys for kids, will make your customers remember you and encourage their loyalty</figcaption>” width=”174″ height=”300″> Introducing a little in-store theatre, like small trolleys for kids, will make your customers remember you and encourage their loyalty</figure>
<p class=It is this desire to improve that has enabled the pair to consistently grow profits for their family-owned Keshco business, which Jamie joined in 2009 and Anish in 2012.

Jamie says the switch to Nisa’s new neighbourhood store format led to some major changes at their Victory Avenue site. “We spent just under £200,000 on the refit and building works. One of the big things was reducing the size of the stock room, which meant the shop space went up from 1,900sq ft to 2,700sq ft.

“We now get daily deliveries from Nisa so we don’t need to keep as much stock out the back. So now we have extra space and our product availability has gone up.”

Other improvements are geared around driving impulse sales. Jamie gives the example of moving the front counter away from the entrance, meaning shoppers are more likely to pick up extra items before paying.

The front counter is also now linked to another important new service – a fully-fledged food to go and coffee area serving up freshly prepared baguettes, pizzas and other hot and cold snacks and drinks.

Jamie says: “Initially, Nisa wasn’t too keen on us combining the main till with the food to go section, but it was something we fought for.

“It means that we don’t need to have lots of staff members manning both sections, as someone on the till can also move across and quickly serve sandwiches and baguettes. And when people are queueing up to pay for goods, they often pick up a snack.

“It was also important for us that customers could see the preparation area so they can see the food is freshly made, and the smell alone has been bringing in a lot of trade.”

[pull_quote_right]I think to be a successful retailer you can’t spend all your time stuck behind the counter. You’ve got to get out and look at new opportunities[/pull_quote_right]

The extra space means that Jamie and Anish have also been able to extend their chilled and frozen food sections, adding new closed-door chillers and freezers to ensure products can be displayed more prominently. The change has saved them money on their energy bills.

Updated displays and new graphics have also been introduced all around the store and free wi-fi is available. And digital screens have been set up to promote the latest in-store deals and promotions, along with Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally scheme.

Jamie says: “We’ve put these in places where customers are going to be more stationary, such as by promotional bays, and they are encouraging people to put a few extra things in their baskets.”

With sales up 22%, excluding services, and weekly turnover reaching a peak of £34,000, Jamie says he is keen to introduce the neighbourhood format to a third store that is due to open next month. The brothers are also in the process of adding a fourth store to their estate.

“Customers love what we’ve done here and they tell us that they feel the store is larger and more open than before, so we want to adopt the same format in the new business. I think to be a successful retailer you can’t spend all your time stuck behind the counter. You’ve got to get out and look at new opportunities and also look at your store from a shopper’s perspective, and see what you can improve.” 

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