Thirty years working for BT might not appear to be the natural background for a cash and carry manager, but Naren Chotai’s success since he took over Dhamecha’s Croydon depot suggests he was an inspired appointment.
Chotai was no stranger to retail, having been a regional manager of 10 BT shops, but he admits he was apprehensive when Dhamecha chief executive Pradip Dhamecha suggested he could do the job. “I did not have any experience of independent retailing or wholesaling,” he says. However, Dhamecha says what
he was looking for was Chotai’s retail background and his experience of managing and motivating a team of staff.
The introduction to the independent sector and cash and carry in February last year was eased by a two-month handover period with his predecessor Dipak Karia, before he moved to manage Dhamecha’s new Watford depot.
Chotai says since then he has also received excellent support from his team at Croydon, and from Dhamecha head office and fellow depot managers.Getting to know his customers has also helped deepen his understanding.
In the depot his door is always open to customers and he says he is steadily getting to know the names of those who are regulars. He also likes to visit customers in their stores, when he can spare time away from the depot, because he feels this gives him a much closer understanding of their businesses and what they require from Dhamecha.
“Once you get to know them you can alert them to any offers they might be interested in,” he says.
The majority of customers come from surrounding areas of south London, but like other Dhamecha depots there are also some customers from much further away, such as Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton and even one regular a two-hour drive away at Rye on the border of East Sussex and Kent.
The working day begins at around 7.30 in the morning to ensure everything is up and running and the team of 50 staff is ready to open at 8.30am. From then on, Chotai says he has a busy routine but he is always on hand to sort out any issues that arise with customers until the depot closes at 8pm from Monday to Friday and 4pm at the weekend.