It is with massive pride and no small satisfaction that we will be sending this year’s Scottish Local Retailer of the Year to Las Vegas in October to attend the NACS conference, the largest convenience retailing event on the planet. The worthy winners, Dennis and Linda Williams of Premier Broadway Convenience Store in Edinburgh, secured the award by confronting and overcoming one of the scariest challenges in local retailing: what to do when a discounter moves in next door?
Yes, there are retailers who will point out that there are more impressive stores in Scotland (and Dennis and Linda would be the first to admit this fact) but don’t forget that the award is called Scottish Local Retailer of the Year for a reason. It’s not the store we’re recognising, it’s the retailer – or, in this case, the retailers, plural.
If you’ve ever faced a challenge that at first glance looked insurmountable, then you’ll understand why what Dennis and Linda have achieved is remarkable. Despite Aldi moving in next door they have managed to maintain their sales at the level they achieved in the year before the discounter arrived. That is nothing short of outstanding. I know of at least one other store down south which faced the same predicament but decided to simply sit tight – and ended up losing 40% of their sales more or less overnight.
Dennis and Linda have had to bust a gut and spend money to do it, but the fact that they’ve anaged to stave off any fall in sales is absolutely worthy of recognition and fulsome praise in my book.
But it’s how they achieved it that is of most interest and that’s the reason they won the top award this year. We will go into the precise details of why they won in the next issue of SLR, but in a nutshell it involved developing a plan of providing a range of services, products and customer service that Aldi couldn’t or wouldn’t match – then executing it to perfection.
After 35 years of serving the same local community and facing the prospect of quite literally losing it all, their tale of innovation and perseverance and commitment and passion and loyalty is quite simply an inspiration to us all. There is an awful lot we can all learn from their experiences because very few retailers in Scotland these days are short of competition, but Dennis and Linda have shown that big, aggressive competitors don’t necessarily get it all their own way.
Dennis and Linda will tell you that the loyalty they have received from their customers had them in tears at times – and that’s why this industry is special. So very, very special.
Well done once again to the Williams – and enjoy Las Vegas, because you’ve earned it fair and square.
Antony Begley, Publishing Director