Palminder Singh and Sumerjit Kaur were behind the opening of the very first Family Shopper store in Wolverhampton in 2012.
- Location: Mossley, Walsall
- Trading since: 1985
- Staff: 15 part-time, one part-time, three in the Post Office
- Hours: 7am-9pm Monday to Saturday, 8am-8pm Sunday
- Size: 2,000sq ft
- Style: A Family Shopper discount store on a shopping parade in a residential area. There is no nearby competition
The opening of that first Family Shopper allowed them to tap into the ‘Lidl class,’ a label the consumer press has given to the affluent savvy shopper, and led to them switching their 20-year-old Nisa store in Walsall to the discount fascia in 2014.
“I guess everyone likes a bargain,” says Sumerjit.
“Before we changed fascia, we felt we were inefficient, we weren’t consistent. But now our store is performing at its best.”
Since converting the Walsall store, the husband and wife team have seen sales grow 30%. They put this down to the ‘streamlined‘ approach they offer. “The good, better, best philosophy is ingrained in Family Shopper stores and it really helps our customers navigate the store and make their choices quickly and conveniently,” adds Sumerjit.
The streamlined approach also benefits staff, who can quickly top up shelves with entire product trays. The shelves are well laid out, helping staff during busy periods: they can quickly see what needs replacing, top up the shelf and then help customers that need attention.
- Know your customers: “Some retailers might be afraid to say that their customers live on a council estate. They shouldn’t be. You’re providing a service for your community and you should be proud of it,” says Sumerjit.
- Streamline: When Palminder converted his store he realised that he was overstocking and providing his customers too much choice. “Salt is just salt,” he said. “Why would you need more than one type?”
- Meal times: Fresh doesn’t work for everyone, but Sumerjit argues that every store has to ensure that they accommodate for the busy customer who can’t plan a meal in advance but still wants to cook one.
But focusing on the customer essentials hasn’t always been on Palminder’s radar. He grew up in his parents’ convenience store and spent his teenage years behind the till.
“I had the basic skills from growing up in my parents’ shop. But we used to overstock for no reason. If you really think about it, do you really need all of these extra products? Do you really sell them?”
Palminder and Sumerjit understand how important their tobacco sales are. “It’s what brings customers into the store in this location,” Sumerjit explains.
She describes her customers in the store as in the lower socio-economic category, with tobacco and cans of alcohol her bestsellers.
“They live day-to-day, and that’s why we cater for all of their needs,” she adds. Sumerjit is referring to the ATM at the back of the store and her Post Office for elderly customers.
These services are at the back of the store because they know customers withdraw money from the cash machine to purchase alcohol and snacks. “It’s just common sense and really simple to do,” she says.
The couple must have a winning formula, because they now own 10 stores with Booker: four Family Shopper and six Premier, across the Midlands and Wales.
So what is the future for Palminder and Sumerjit? They say they have purchased the entire shopping parade that their Mossley store is located on and plan to renovate the exterior to bring the other stores up to the same high-quality standard as their Family Shopper store.