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In today’s challenging retail market, you have to adapt to survive and Saki Ghafoor of Bargain Booze Ashington is a prime example.
Location: Ashington, Northumberland
Trading since: April 2011
Staff: 10 full- and part-time
Size: 4,000sq ft
Style: A spacious store opposite a residential area. It is a minute’s walk away from the high street, which is home to an Asda, Lidl, Poundstretcher, Poundworld, Heron Foods and several other big names
He reduced the size of his Ashington store from 7,000sq ft to 4,000sq ft last year to slash the cost of overheads and prepare for the increase in the national minimum wage in April.
“We take £20,000 a week at the moment and we hope to increase that. At its peak I’ve taken £30,000 here and my target is to get above £25,000,” explains Saki.
No sooner had the shopfitters descended on the store, Saki was given another opportunity to consider.
A conversation with Bargain Booze in October piqued his interest, luring him away from Nisa. “Alcohol was a quarter of our sales with Nisa, but we were competing with everybody on the grocery side of the business.
“Now with Bargain Booze we’re not competing with those stores because they don’t specialise in alcohol,” he says. His Bargain Booze Ashington store is stocked with malt whiskeys and 5l bottles of spirits that provide customers with something different at an affordable price.
He is also looking at getting PoS from Bargain Booze around food matching toencourage customers to buy alcohol with food.
Another way Saki stays competitive is by keeping an eye on the latest trends – and not just food and drink trends.
“Two years ago there was a big trend on loom bands and a lot of people made a lot of money out of them. Look at what your kids are doing and find out the talk of the playground. If they nag you for something, you know everybody wants it,” he says.
Family is important to Saki – after working in electronics and engineering for six years, he joined forces with his brother Shami to move into retail. They own a store each, withShami running a Nisa in Gateshead.
“My dad helps out too,” says Saki. “He’s 65 now but still does a lot of the running around, trips to the accountant and that sort of thing. There’s always something for us to do.”
Keeping busy and dealing with challenges are among the reasons Saki says he loves retailing and he relishes in taking a hands-on approach to every inch of the business.
“I like to get my hands dirty and I have a DIY attitude. You’ve got to in this day and age,” he says. Reducing the size of the store has created two new units in the property, which he plans to rent out, preferably to a national brand, such as a Costa Coffee or Dominos.
In the next few weeks, Saki says he will be dedicating his time to getting everything right in his new Bargain Booze Ashington store. He plans to promote his deals in local newspapers and build a Facebook page to run competitions.
“We’re always looking for other stuff to do, whether that’s another store, investment property, rental property – anything,” he adds.
Saki knows it’ll be a challenging year, but believes the smaller store, his new alcohol offer and a good attitude will ensure a successful future. “My dad always says be honest, be straightforward and look after your customers and suppliers,” he says. “If you do that, they will be sure to look after you.”
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