Business for Lizette Craig, MD of ­Botterills Convenience Stores, is very much like the old Sly and The Family Stone hit - a real family affair.
Granddaughter to the company&'s founder, daughter of its chairman, and wife to its financial director, Craig is the third generation to take up the reigns of the Botterills&' business, which celebrates 50 years of trading this month.
&"When my grandparents opened the first Botterills&' store in 1956, it took around £10 a week. 50 years on, we have an annual turnover of more than £60m; it&'s pretty amazing,&" she said.
Craig stepped up to the plate in ­September 2004 following her ­father&'s retirement after 38 years with the company. Craig, who is now in her mid-thirties, admits that her father is a hard act to follow, but she is determined to make her own mark on the business and continue his success in driving it forward.
&"It can be quite hard at times to follow in the footsteps of somebody who was in the business for so long, but I am slowly putting my own stamp on things. I owe a great deal of thanks to my management team and ­especially my dad. He has taken a step back to let me do things my way, which must have been hard for him at first.&"
However, she&'s no stranger to the business. Craig started work part time in head office as a teenager. She later graduated with a degree in accountancy from Glasgow University and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.
Nearly two years into her new role and Craig&'s &'way of doing business&' is certainly having an impact. Year-on-year growth is up by 7.4% and the grocery chain is currently ranked 17th in The Grocer&'s Top 50 list of indepen­dent retailers.
Craig also plans to open two further stores by the end of the year, which would bring the Botterills store portfolio up to 47, just three short of the 50 mark that she had planned to meet by the company&'s Golden anniversary.
&"I could have had 50 stores if I had wanted to, but they might not have been the right stores. It&'s not a ­numbers game; each of the stores has to contribute to the company and not be a drain on it. In this day and age of soaring business costs, you simply can&'t afford that.&"
Craig is vexed by the same issues as all our Top 50 members: the mini­mum wage, rising energy costs and competition from other retailers. But she says that keeping a cool head and knowing when to turn off is one key to success. She has a good work/life balance, is an avid football fan and cinema-goer, and has just come back from two weeks in the sun.
&"Getting away is vital, and I have no worries when I leave. Obviously I am always on the end of the phone if there&'s a problem, but I have a tremen­dous amount of trust in the people that I leave behind, which is so important,&" she says.
It is this close relationship between herself, her management team and staff that helps to keep things running smoothly, she adds.
&"You have got to keep it local. It&'s ­vital that you really know your staff and keep them involved. We have ­almost 900 members of staff working for us and they are all on first-name terms with both myself and my father. I never want to get away from that. We are like a big extended ­family, and that&'s the way it&'s going to stay. Our staff are our main focus as they are our first line of contact with our customers. If our staff are happy, our customers will be happy.&"
Craig is now in the throes of fixing the final touches to the plans for Botterills&' 50-year celebrations, which are due to kick off with a big bash for suppliers and staff on 7 June.
All Botterills stores will be running special 50-year promotions, and displaying 50-year PoS material. S­uppliers will also be getting stuck in by ­providing products to tie in with the celebrations.
However, Botterills reaching its 50th year of trading is not the only celebration that is set to take place this year, as Craig is just over four months pregnant with her first child.
&"The baby is going to be another major adjustment. I will obviously be taking maternity leave, but with both my dad and my husband still working, I will be kept fully informed of everything that goes on!&"
With the next heir to the dynasty due to arrive on the scene in October, it looks as though the Botterills&' ­empire will continue to thrive for many years to come. n
Store numbers: 45
Number of employees: 889
Turnover: £58.1m
Growth year-on-year: 7.4%
Type of operation: C-stores

50 years on...
A year of ups and downs at Anglian
Reader Survey
In 1956 the Botterill family opened their first store in Blantyre, Scotland.Ten years later, in 1966, Botterills joined Spar and this relationship still exists.1966 was also the year that Craig's father Jim Botterill joined the company, and so began a period of expansion to five stores.The early 1970s saw Botterills start dealing with CJ Lang, and the company continued to bolster its store portfolio.In 1979 Botterills opened the first eight-til-late outlet. This store was also the first new build in 20 years.The early 1980s were a key time for the company; Craig's grandparents retired and Jim Botterill took over the helm. 1984 saw the start of the miners' strike and, despite the introduction of a three-day week, the company managed to maintain a slow but steady rate of expansion. By the end of the 1980s Botterills had 15 stores. The 1990s were a period of rapid expansion, with the first stores entering the East of Scotland. In 1994 Botterills became a limited company. Craig joined as retail director in 1998 after she graduated.In 2002 the company streamlined its management structure, leaving just Craig, her father and her husband Alan Craig as financial director.In September 2004 Jim Botterill handed the reins over to his daughter - and here's to 50 more years.?
Anglian Convenience Stores has had more ups and downs in the past year than Thorpe Park's latest stomach churner Stealth.When we last spoke to The Top 50 chain's joint managing directors, Robert Surridge and Peter Head, in June 2005, it was in the throes of quitting Budgens Local and launching its own fascia, HeadS, supplied by Nisa-Today's. Twelve months on, and after much deliberation, the 21-store estate is 95% rebranded with new cream, orange and turquoise signage.However, while the rebranding ­process went smoothly, in late 2005 the chain was dogged by problems with its electronic funds transfer system, which left it out of pocket by thousands of pounds. "After eight weeks desperately trying to figure out where all our money had gone, we discovered that a mistake in the system meant it had all been going to another retailer. Eventually we got it all back, but it was a horrendous experience, and it caused some major damage to the business," recalls Head.The company, which is ranked 38th on The Grocer's Top 50 list with sales of £20m, down 4.8% on last year, was hit by further problems with Nisa-Today's Christmas delivery failure at its Scunthorpe distribution centre."The delivery drama damaged our business dramatically. We lost more money in two months than we did in two years. We had all these stores with no stock, it was ­incredibly traumatic," says Head.Meanwhile, the chain was gazumped on three separate occasions when trying to buy new stores. Despite everything, Head says business is now back on an even keel, and he is optimistic about the future. "We had a really good Easter and sales are buoyant. We are concentrating on consolidating the business, and finding the right stores to buy."Plans are still afoot to buy a tearoom in Heacham, he says. With a year like that, it sounds like he could use a good cuppa.
Independent retailers say they will participate in the Competition Commission's investigation into the grocery market, despite Office of Fair Trading chief executive John Fingleton's advice to steer clear.A recent telephone poll of The Grocer's Top 50 members revealed that half were planning to submit some form of evidence on pricing, planning and/or buying power. A further 25% said that they would be happy to contribute if called upon, while 25% said that they wanted no involvement at all.Asked which issues were most critical to them, half said buying power, while the other half agreed that they were all equally weighted.Despite the competition posed by the top multiples, none of our Top 50 members had ever purchased land with a view to stopping a rival building a store on it, they insisted.A retailer at one northern-based independent chain said: "The big issue for us, however, is that we are unable to pay the price for land that is paid by the major multiples."This forces us to be light on our feet and highly creative in order to deliver attractive schemes that please planners and public alike."Another retailer said that the competition was becoming so fierce that it was a real struggle to afford the price of land.Gazumping is becoming a common practice, and one that is even catching out some of the larger retail chains, as Peter Head, joint MD of Anglian Convenience Stores, had the misfortune to find out three times in a row.Three quarters of the retailers that we spoke to said that they would never consider getting involved in what has been dubbed the 'black art' of buying up land to squeeze out the competition, although 25% said that if they had the money to put aside, "which we don't", they might chew the option over.The Competition Commission's investigation is expected to last for about two years.Asked whether they thought that the outcome would affect them, 75% said that they believed the outcome would probably be neutral for them.Only one quarter of respondents said that they did not expect the investigation to have a direct impact on their business.?