Looking to follow the success of his family flagship store, Ramesh Shingadia has set up a second shop using a similar format in West Sussex. Gurpreet Samrai reports.

After more than 30 years in the business, Ramesh Shingadia and his family decided the time was right to take their award-winning formula and apply it to a second store.

D3S_8289And with a 50% hike in turnover since its refit last month, their Londis Caterways and Post Office in West Sussex is already proving to be a success, showing it has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the family’s flagship store in nearby Southwater.

Londis Caterways has seen a 180% jump in dairy sales, 30% in off licence and 10% up in tobacco sales despite the gantry being ripped out and cigarettes moved under the counter, during its refit. However, Ramesh and son Amish, who is running the store, will not be resting on their laurels.

“I always say doing the refit is only the start of the journey,” Ramesh says. “Now what we need to do over the next three months is review all the categories and ranges, and see what’s moving and what’s not and start fine-tuning the whole store.

“When you do a refit you use planograms which can be a little generic. You take a first stab at what you think the shop should be offering, but as you go through the learning curve you get to a point where you think ‘now I need to make sure it’s operating at its optimum.’”

To ensure the store contained the right services, Ramesh and his family consulted the community after taking it over in May this year.

Ramesh has taken on board the villagers’ feedback including expanding the store’s fresh and chilled offering and installing a Post Office local, which he says has been one of the biggest contributors to increasing footfall. It also shares many of the popular features of the successful Southwater flagship store, including food to go and an ATM.

“The only radical thing we’ve done in the store is get rid of the cigarette gantry,” Ramesh says. “All the cigarettes are now under the counter. But the interesting thing is tobacco sales have actually gone up by 10%.

I think the National Living Wage is one of the biggest challenges so we need to make sure the stores are operating as efficiently as they can

“We had a lot of debate with the cigarette companies, but we decided with the gantries going dark and EUTPD II coming in next year the size of the gantry will reduce by 30-40% so we didn’t see the justification in blocking that space behind the checkout.

“It made a lot more sense to have them elsewhere and better utilise that space so it gives us the best value for money. We now have our spirits there.”

Looking to the new year, Ramesh is preparing for the many potential obstacles the trade is facing, from EUTPD II to the introduction of the National Living Wage.

“There are quite a lot of challenges coming through and I think, for us, both the stores need to be reviewed in that light.

D3S_8263“Are they generating the right sales? Are they generating the right margins? Are they generating the right profit to be able to support the challenges that are coming through next year?

“I think the National Living Wage is one of the biggest challenges so we need to make sure the stores are operating as efficiently as they can. I think for most retailers the next six months will be quite difficult.”

However, that has not put the family off exploring future ventures with negotiations already taking place for the site of a third store with the possibility of more to follow. 

“I think we already have a good formula in Southwater and we’ve transferred that to Caterways – so the way we’d look to go on is more of the same thing,” Ramesh says.

“But finding the right location is key. Obviously you have to design it based on the demographics, but the principle should be similar.”

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