2 mins: Mo Razzaq

Fresh from being named Responsible Retailer of the Year at last month’s SLR Awards, Blantyre retailer Mo Razzaq has turned his attention to a new store – the first Family Shopper shop to open in Scotland.

Hi Mo, you triumphed at last month’s SLR Awards – we can only assume you were happy?
Happy? I was over the moon. It was a great night and as soon as I discovered we’d won we texted the staff to tell them. They were equally happy. It’s a team effort after all – “we” won the award, not me.

Your customers must be happy to see the example you’re setting.
We don’t sell energy drinks to under 16s and there’s a limit on how much alcohol any one customer can buy. We’ve got a responsibility to our community and we must be doing something right. Year in and year out they keep coming back so the restrictions can’t bother them too much.

Do you think local retailers are unfairly targeted for underage sales and responsibility?
The simple fact is that small shops sell less alcohol than supermarkets. C-stores are an easy target. If a small shop fails a test purchase it loses its licence where as look at Lidl, which just appealed the decision and won. Councils know small shops can’t afford to do that so they are made an example of.

What can be done to reverse this?
The Government hasn’t supported local retailers enough. It’s a fallacy that we’re responsible for societal problems. The amount of work that small shops do in their communities is commendable, and it’s not all just about alcohol. We do things that supermarkets just aren’t interested in.

Speaking of which, are your football teams ready for the new season?
We’ve just ordered new strips for the under 11 team. That cost us £1,500 as it’s a 22 man squad! Thankfully we’ve had some help for the under 13 side through sponsorship, so we’re looking forward to the season ahead.

What tips would you pass on to other retailers?
Beyond doing what is mandatory a great way to highlight your responsibility is biometric scanning. The systems are easy and useful for both customer and retailer.

You’re big on sustainability too, aren’t you?
We’ve made the final of the Retail Industry Awards for our sustainability works. We’ve changed the lighting in the shop, put new lights in the chillers, changed the timers, introduced a water management system and trained staff in best practice. It’s saving us money so it’s about sustainability for us too!

Which brings us to business expansion. Tell us about Family Shopper.
It’s a new offering from Booker, which is more in line with what Aldi and Lidl are doing. The site we’ve acquired is an old hotel and bar in High Blantrye. We’ll be turning it into bedsits and a 2,500 sq ft store. We’ll be opening in a couple of month.

So why did you opt for this new fascia instead of Premier?
We did our homework. It’s 60% of the average income in that area with low car ownership and 69% of the population over 35 years of age. The discount formula, we believe, will work and it’s been seen by Booker as a flagship Scottish store.

So, we dread to ask, but have you managed a holiday this summer?
I was meant to be going away in August, but I’ve had to cancel it due to the new shop opening. At least with the hot weather sales have been good!

 

FACTfile
Shahid ‘Mo’ Razzaq is a multi-award winning Premier retailer in Blantyre who has carved out a peerless reputation for responsible retailing. He is set to open another store next month, under Booker’s new Family Shopper symbol. He’ll get a holiday at some point in the future.

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