My new store is on course to open in early October and the project is certainly becoming a reality. During the past two weeks the key task has been resolving some issues that the council planning department had raised.
Also I have been looking for the best deals I could find for flooring, electrical installation, Fire & Smoke alarm and CCTV.
The conversion of the former hotel has given me the opportunity to create two businesses on the site, the 240 square metre Family Shopper store and an eight room bedsit facility.
The planning department recently wrote to me stating that they needed to treat each room as a separate application and charge £380 for each.
Clearly this would have added a significant sum to my cost. I discussed with my architect how we should go about resolving this potentially significant extra cost.
We both felt that the way I am planning to use the former hotel's bedrooms will not significantly changed so it was worth challenging the planners decision.
My architect arranged for a meeting with the head of the planning department to discuss the issue. The meeting went well for me and I came away with an agreement that I would be charged for one application.
Having undertaken a number of projects to improve my Blantyre store I am aware that it is easy to pay too much for things.
Armed with this experience I am searching out the very best price I can find for every item on my new store shopping list. Everything from a hard wearing flooring which is expected to last up to 30 years to a 16 camera digital CCTV system.
By asking my architect, other retailers and searching the Internet I am making significant savings on the highest quotes I have had.
One of the big areas of saving is on the fire and smoke alarm systems that cover both the store and accommodation areas of the premises.
The first quote that I received was over £3,500 and by shopping around I have been able to more than halve the cost of installation the equipment and having it certified.
It used to be the case that when one made a planning application the local fire safety office would visit and issue a certificate if everything was in order. This is no longer the case, so I have written a fire safety policy for the site.
I am working with the Booker Family Shopper team to ensure that the range and floor plan is appropriate for our customer base.
The tastes of my Scottish customers are different to the good people of Wolverhampton where the first Family Shopper store is operating. Scottish top sellers include lorne sausages and Irn Bru so these and other regional variations have been added in to the range.
My target for opening the new store is early October and with the pace of the project beginning to quicken I am happy the we will achieve this. Of course there's still much to do and I will post an update on my progress in a couple of weeks.