In early May Sheffield Council granted our planning application to make changes to our own premises and the unit next door that will create our new store.

Choosing the right companies to work with

Now we can start the physical part of the project, so we arranged our builders from Direct Construction to start work on the site. Their role is to transform the former electrician’s office and store into a retail space and unite it with our shop by removing the party wall.

Once they have completed the construction phase, PVB Shopfitters will then take on the shop refit. We chose to use both companies because we have used them before and they have a good reputation among Sheffield’s independent retailers, so we can expect a high quality job.

Tolerance is crucial

Working with builders on-site requires tolerance and understanding for everyone involved. By ‘everyone’ I include all my employees, customers and neighbours as well as the builders.

I started by discussing the programme of work with Brad, the builder’s contract manager, so I could understand which parts of the project would cause potential negative impact on our shop and customers. The key issues covered were:

  1. The project timetable of events like the party wall being removed and the floor being dug-up.
  2. Health and safety issues and the builders risk assessment.
  3. The rules and etiquette of the builders’ team and my store team working together.

Keeping our customers happy

One of the big challenges for the shop during the period when the builders are on site is the dust. Although they use dust sheets and seal the site well, dust always seems to find a way through. While our customers put up with dust on some products, my team will be dusting and cleaning every day.

Since we announced what we were planning I have had many customers coming to talk to me about it. I have not only been telling them about what our vision for the new store is, but also what the ‘discomfort’ of getting there is likely to be. By their feedback I know that they are going to continue to shop with us.