We’ve run our shop for over seven years now and although the business is doing really well and we’re never short of ideas to improve, we always find ourselves short of the time to implement them and sometimes can’t do them because we are too wrapped up in the day-to-day running of the shop.

We have always been proud of being fully independent and always thought that joining a symbol group would be selling out. We haven’t seriously looked into it before because we were worried about losing our identity and that, in doing so, it would have an adverse effect on our business.

But in retail, in order to stay ahead of the game things must always change.

Just as we change our promotions and stock lines, we have to change our way of thinking. We’ve also met some really great symbol group retailers that have kept their own stores unique and this has given us the confidence to think about changing our business to a symbol group.

The negatives in our case would be customer reaction, having a brand name displayed above our shop and being tied in to certain brands, but these are far outweighed by the positives such as:

  • regular promotions and PoS;
  • access to technology;
  • business development advice;
  • staff training programmes;
  • employment legislation advice; and
  • media advertising.

Do we accept a helping hand or continue to go it alone?

What we’ve looked for in a symbol group is:

  • a commitment but no ties – we don’t want to be stuck with something for five years, especially if we find it’s not for us;
  • a really good own brand, good packaging, quality of product and pricing;
  • business support – that support and development advice is available; and
  • financial packages and technology.

Palmer and Harvey and Costcutter have taken a battering lately in the press but our personal experience with them
has been good. They seem to tick all of the boxes, particularly regarding the no contractual ties element and their Independent range fits well with our shop and customer demographic, so watch this space…

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