At sheringham paper, norfolk uk

@ Sheringham Community Paper - Issue 75 - 8 June 2007

Independent Sheringham Store Takes on Supermarket Goliath

Staff and customers at Budgens of Sheringham will be celebrating National Independent's Week in style, as the event coincides with a relaunch following 100,000 worth of improvements.

The store was taken over a year ago by business partners Paul Burnell and Jinx Hundal. And, in spite of the threat of a Tesco supermarket looming over the town, the pair were determined to it into a thriving business set firmly at the heart of the community.

Budgens in Sheringham Relaunch"A lot of people have seen what Tesco has done to other towns in terms of small businesses closing down, but we were confident that wouldn't affect us," Mr Hundal said.   "I think there will always be a need for small, town centre stores as what we offer is that local touch, which is something you don't get at big supermarkets. By getting the basics right, such as focussing on friendly, personal service and locally-sourced products, I think we can keep, and build on, the loyal customer base we already have."  Dublin-born Mr Burnell, who has a degree in business studies, trained as an accountant before joining Budgens' Dublin-based parent company Musgrave, where he developed an interest in independent trading.  "I just think it is a more sustainable model of retailing as if you support the local economy, then the money stays in the area," he said.

Mr Hundal, who studied business management at Cardiff University before joining a graduate programme run by Marks and Spencer, met Mr Burnell after he joined Musgrave as an operations manager.

The pair worked on projects together all over Ireland and, when Musgrave launched a franchise scheme in 2004, they decided to take on the Sheringham store.

"We visited a number of sites but saw huge potential at Sheringham and were attracted to the vibrancy and uniqueness of the town, "Mr Hundal said.

After talking to staff and customers, the pair came up with a strategy for improving the store.

"We realised that the main thing people wanted was a cheaper, more efficient supermarket so we have lowered prices and spent money on improving the shopping environment and speeding up service," Mr Burnell explained.

As well as offering reduced prices on a range of products including bread and milk, the store now stocks newspapers and magazines, has a hot food counter serving freshly-made sandwiches, pies and pasties, and sells locally-sourced produce ranging from Norfolk Tawny and Binham Blue cheeses, to bread baked by Linzers of Norwich.

"It is great to be able to support local suppliers, especially when you take into account the concern about of food miles. The environment is a huge issue and, as part of the community, we want to be socially responsible."

The business partners, who last month took over a second Budgens store at Cromer, insist that, even if a Tesco does open at Sheringham, they are here to stay.

"We think we can prove that we can work for the town and run alongside other businesses. We are here for the long term and we wouldn't have invested such a large amount of money if we didn't think there was a future for retailing in Sheringham," Mr Burnell said.

National Independents' Week runs from June 4 - 10. Budgens of Sheringham will be celebrating by running in-store events including a colouring competition for local children. The store will be officially re-opened on Monday by a local celebrity, with attractions including a magician, food and wine tasting, and children's activities. For more information, phone 01263 822126.

 

Matthew Perrott, Carpet and Upholstery cleaner, Sheringham, Norfolk