Considered “highly intelligent” and someone who “really knows the market” by his peers, the European Food Brokers MD is certainly not afraid to go out on a limb. First it was 1Stop4, the retail club for independents that he launched in 2001 and now boasts 180 members. Then came The Local, which was aimed at smaller independents and now has over 100 members.
And now he’s at it again with plans to launch a franchise scheme targeted at the 75% of its club members that are off-licence retailers. “That’s the next stage,” confirms Chatha. “We want to offer the full package, promotions, fascia and everything.”
The new format turns the usual convenience format on its head with its 70% off-licence, 30% convenience ratio. Chatha sees it as the natural next step in franchising. “Franchising is everywhere yet no-one has got to grips with it except Bargain Booze.” He won’t disclose the name of the new chain, but says that a number of members are interested and he is confident that 20 stores will open under the new fascia next year.
EFB is not neglecting the rest of its business, however. Through its delivered wholesale arm, Whitalls Wines, it is sole supplier to Booze Buster and Wine Cellar and has just clinched the deal to carry out all the latter’s advertising and promotions. Over the next 12 months, Chatha also plans to open three new depots to add to its existing three, in Halifax, Walsall and Gateshead.
As for the future of wholesale, Chatha reckons the answer is to swing both ways. “Wholesale customers have been changing, which is why we started as delivered wholesalers. But there is still a large cash and carry base out there.”