Having successfully set up one c-store, Vijay Sathi set his sights on a second store – and in the first month of business takings are already up by an impressive 60%. Steven Lambert reports

Vijay Sathi is not one for sitting still. Having recently achieved his target of converting one Kent convenience store into a business with a turnover of more than £1.5m, the retailer has just opened his most recent venture in the town of Chatham.

Vijay says: “We’d had our eye on the property for some time. The previous owners had run the store for 30 years and, when they said they were selling up, we jumped at the chance to buy it.”

And the move is already paying dividends, with turnover at the new Nisa Local already up 60% in the first month.

While Vijay says he could immediately see the potential in the site – especially its location in a highly residential area – a lot of work would be needed to bring it up to standard.

 

<figcaption>Vijay says he had his eye on a second store for some time and jumped at the chance when it arose</figcaption>” width=”199″ height=”300″> Vijay says he had his eye on a second store for some time and jumped at the chance when it arose</figure>
<p>He says: “The shop and the fittings and fixtures hadn’t been touched for a good many years. So we came up with our own plans and submitted them to Nisa, who gave us the okay.</p>
<p>“We were told we would be able to get the work done in five weeks for £100,000. We managed to do it in nine days at half the price.”</p>
<p>The work involved knocking down a total of five walls – extending the floor space into the attached clothes shop that came with the property – digging up and adding a new floor, and installing new LED lights.</p>
<p>Vijay was helped by a small team including his proud father, Raj, who now splits his time between supporting his son in the family’s stores and working as an acquisitions manager for a large corporate company.</p>
<p>Vijay says he has adopted Raj’s ethos of buying stores that need upgrading. “We like a challenge, and it gives us more freedom to put our own mark on them,” he says.</p>
<p>At 2,000sq ft, the business is now double its previous size and, with the extra room available, Vijay has been able to bring a host of improvements. He says: “We have been able to widen the aisles and we now have the space to give proper facings to products. It’s the biggest refit we’ve done so far.”</p>
<p>[pull_quote_right]We have been able to widen the aisles and we now have the space to give proper facings to products. It’s the biggest refit we’ve done so far[/pull_quote_right]</p>
<p>The store also hosts an impressive 10 metres of chilled food and drink, along with an additional seven metres of chilled beers and wines. Vijay says: “Chilled and fresh is the big thing for us at the moment, especially things like fresh cooked meats and fruit and veg. Food to go has also been important. We had one customer come in just as we’d put some sausage rolls in the oven and he commented on how nice the place smelled. He spent £15 in the shop there and then.”</p>
<p>Vijay says he is now in the process of improving his bake-off area at the back of the shop to offer a bigger food to go selection, as well as installing a coffee machine in the next few weeks. The decision is certain to appeal those attending the school just up the hill from the shop, which has just been rebuilt to accommodate 1,000 extra students.</p>
<p>Along with this extra trade, Vijay says feedback from regular customers has been “very positive”, adding that average basket spend is in the region of £5 to £6.</p>
<p>“It’s still early days yet, but our turnover and footfall are continuing to grow, and we’re also seeing people who say they’ve not been to the store in years.”</p>
<p>To increase his revenue stream, Vijay is also refurbishing the flat above the shop and is due to rent it out.</p>
<p>He adds that he plans to build and rent out a further two flats on the property in the near future. “You’ve got to utilise every part of your business,” says Vijay.</p>
<p>While he is already looking at adding another store to his portfolio this year, Vijay says his main concern is bringing his latest business up to its full potential: “We still have more work left to do but we’re off to a good start.”</p>
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