My wife, Roxy and I cut the ribbon and opened the doors of our Family Shopper store in High Blantyre in November last year. To say I am delighted with what we have achieved hardly covers how I feel about the success we are having.

Of course, Family Shopper is a completely new retail format for me. This has meant that I have been on a huge learning experience to develop new management skills and processes that are demanded by the business. The larger format discount business is very different from the smaller scale Premier convenience store we have run for over 20 years and needs a different retail psychology.

Booker provides their Family Shopper retailers with a lot of support and this includes an operations manual. This has everything that a retailer needs to operate the store at a basic level. It has been a great help to me in the start-up period. Of course operating the store at a basic level was never on my agenda and I have been chasing sales however I can.

The part of the store layout, which I was most sceptical about, was the twelve chest display freezers (yes, twelve!) for the extensive frozen food range that Family Shopper specify. I was of the belief that frozen was a dying category so have watched with utter disbelief the volume of frozen we are selling. It is the category that is booming and leading the sales charge for us.

The bakery was and initial disappointment as for the first few months. It didn’t work and we were losing money on it every day. But with the support of our Delice de France business development manager, we sorted out the range and our baking timetable and turned the category around. It is now working very well and the weeks when it just was not working are a dim memory now.

The category that has proved to be much harder to sort out is fresh fruit and vegetables. It seems that our customer base needs to be encouraged to give fresh a go. We have signed up with Healthy Living Scotland and have been provided with a free standing display for apples, oranges, pears and bananas. I have a stand next to the checkout and we encourage our customers to add fruit to their baskets. It’s a hard sell, but I know that fresh fruit and veg should be part of a healthy diet.

Our first year with a Family Shopper store gave us much to celebrate and we held a barbecue party for our customers to share the occasion. Being a business we had a fantastic selection of offers to tempt spending and spend they did delivering us our best trading day yet.

There is more to tell on my Family Shopper experience and I will cover this in my next article.