Having been in the drink business throughout his entire career, Gary Silver knows how the industry works. But in the three-and-a-half years since he became general manager at Dhamecha's Enfield depot, a lot has changed.
Since opening in 2001, the depot has focused on beers, wines and spirits, but that is evolving as part of a shift towards a fuller grocery offering. Around 18 months ago, the depot started selling snack products and in May, a chiller cabinet was installed for cheese and dairy goods. Dhamecha also devoted a section to provide morning goods such as croissants, and in September started to stock eggs.
"It seems the right way to move," says Silver. "It's been a huge learning curve as my background is alcohol. It's still a very small section of the store but it's growing on a weekly basis. We're looking to offer a one- stop shop for the majority of our customers."
Dhamecha also plans to expand use of its Day 1 fascia, which it runs in collaboration with Nisa-Today's. The fascia is available to members of Dhamecha's Privileged Customer Club, who must pay a £50 annual licence fee and source 65% of their goods from Dhamecha depots. In return, the retailer can use the Day 1 fascia, which shows affiliation to the Dhamecha brand. There are currently 18 Privileged Customer Club members at the Enfield depot, two of which have adopted the Day 1 fascia.
But signage and stock are not the only things evolving at the depot. Dhamecha has begun trading on bank holidays and only closes twice a year: on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. "We open on bank holidays now because the demand was there," Silver says. "Most of our customers are open 365 days a year. If they're selling then we need to supply them.
"Last year was incredible. Boxing Day was as busy as a Friday, which is our second busiest day of the week. It was done in half the time because although we're open on bank holidays, we have shorter hours."
Customer satisfaction is top of the agenda, says Silver, who spends the majority of his ten-hour day on the depot floor.
"First thing in the morning I check everything is going to plan. I speak to customers and staff to make sure they have everything they need. There's always paperwork, but once I've cleared that it's back down to the floor to talk to the customers again."
The depot's main competitors in the area are Bestway and Booker - both in Tottenham. So how does Dhamecha differentiate from its rivals? Silver says it's about having the personal touch, an open-door policy and keeping well-stocked.
"It comes from talking to people and listening to the customer. Having a close team helps. It's not a problem to pick up a phone and talk to the Dhamecha family - all doors are open. I find that many people get to a certain level of success and shut the doors but it's not like that here."
Availability is key, he adds. "Price is important for customers, but being well stocked is even more imporant. What use is the best price if they get to the depot and there aren't any products on the shelves?" he says. "It's annoying for customers."