It’s a case of once bitten, twice shy when it comes to symbol group operators, says Deepak Patel, who is converting one of his three c-stores in Clacton-on-Sea to Budgens next month.
Patel, who used to drive to Dhamecha’s Barking cash and carry, switched to Booker’s delivered service last year, re-badging one of his stores to its Premier fascia. But despite the appealing package (no membership fees and good terms) Booker is not reliable enough for him, says Patel.
He researched the options, from Londis and Costcutter to Nisa, Spar and Somerfield Essentials. But Budgens was best, he says.
“This time, I’ve really done my homework. Not just talking to all the companies, but talking to retailers and franchisees - that’s the only way you can really find out what they’re like.
“I think that when you are doing more than £20,000 a week, you need a different kind of service. We’re putting
£300,000 into this and extending the store to just over 2,000 sq ft. If it goes well, I’ll look at converting the other two stores.”
Having six deliveries a week will also mean less stock in the system, he adds. “I’m probably £50,000 overstocked at the moment because I can’t rely on deliveries.”
The next big trading opportunity will be bonfire night. “We sold loads of fireworks last year, so I am pretty confident.”
On the subject of test purchasing of products, like fireworks and alcohol, Patel is clear. “It’s all down to staff training. We get people here trying it on all the time. No ID, no sale. It’s that simple.”