Whilst the convenience market has changed exponentially over the past couple of years, new trends are emerging, including the rise of what’s been coined the ‘miniples’ which are providing multiple site ownership opportunities for smaller franchise retailers.
Reports of higher profits, greater margins and more control is turning the once traditional CTN shopkeeper into ‘mini multiple’ entrepreneurs, with their own burgeoning portfolio of successful stores.
With many smaller businesses still reeling from the aftereffects of Covid, and now being hit with rising energy bills, the cost-of-living crisis and challenging customer loyalty, what is the ‘formula’ that these successful retailers seem to have uncovered?
Brothers and business duo, Mitesh and Vinny Parekh considered themselves as experienced retailers who knew the industry well. However, things changed for them quite markedly when they joined the One Stop Franchise and had their eyes opened to a ‘vision’, that they didn’t even know they were looking for.
They opened their first shop nearly 30 years ago as part of a Post Office, moving further into the convenience space, with their following two stores. Over the next two decades, they switched between symbol groups. Each model relied heavily on cash and carry visits and onsite management.
It seemed problems were exacerbated as their interest to grow increased. More stores required more stock, more staff, more hands-on control. The potential for a fourth store loomed but so did the uncertainty about whether they could handle it.
Mitesh explains: “We needed an alternative and weren’t going to settle for second best. We wanted the stores to run themselves, an end to cash and carry and crucially to find a partner we believed and trusted in.”
The duo delved into options over the course of a year until they discovered the One Stop offering. Vinny explains: “It ticked all the boxes, but we were still worried about the risk and commitment.”
“Quite quickly we could see we didn’t need to worry. We thought we knew a lot about the industry but realised immediately there was so much we didn’t know and so much to learn from the whole team. We did everything they suggested and after the first week sales grew and continued to go up and up. Before our business was ‘okay’ but with a new partner we started to see real growth quickly, not steadily but fast.”
“I’ve never seen a retailer work with its franchisees like this before, with help, guidance, and constant support. We’ve spoken to everyone from the Managing Director, Sarah Lawler to the merchandise team. You would not normally have these contacts, but at One Stop I’ve had communication and advice from all of them.”
The Parekhs have now been with One Stop for three years and in this time have doubled the business from three to six stores, with another two in the pipeline for conversion this year.
So, what do the brothers think the ‘formula’ looks like in reality? Mitesh expands: “We listen, we learn, we trust, and we follow what we are advised.”
“The whole package works from the way the store is laid out specifically for its size, through to recommendations on product selection so you don’t make mistakes. One Stop knows what it is doing and through their recommendations the stores now run themselves.”
“I can sit down now and go into any of my stores online and look at the figures and do any necessary checks. I no longer need to be running round the cash and carry, or the stores but can supervise the managers whilst making plans for the future.”
The Parekh’s Business Development Manager, Paul Wilson, has been a constant course of guidance and help as they’ve developed and finessed their portfolio. As Paul explains “I’m incredibly proud of Mitesh and Vinny and being able to help them through their journey.”
“We meet at least once a month to talk through how the stores are working, best practise, profitability, and strategies for the future. This gives them the opportunity to stop and think. They couldn’t do this before as they were too busy running round fighting fires, or at the cash and carry. Now we’re looking at how to improve what they have and what the next set of stores will looks like.”
“At One Stop we tailor our support as everyone is equal, whether they have 20 stores or one store. It’s really key to independent retailers that they feel valued and part of a family that cares, inspires trust and support. We’re in this together and are part of a strong unified team, and we’ve maintained this ethos from the start.”
So, how do the brothers feel three years down the line? Mitesh concludes: “Right now, I’m doing far fewer hours than I did before, around four or five hours, five days a week. Three years ago, I was doing between 10 -12 hours a day, over five or six days.” “Before money was important but now it’s about the achievement and seeing how far we can take this, and to show my kids what can be achieved. I wasn’t thinking on this level before, but One Stop has changed this and enabled my mindset and confidence to shift beyond what I ever thought was possible.”