The shop has been in existence for over 100 years and has been in the hands of only two families prior to being taken over by the village nominated committee. It is now the only shop within the village, as, like many villages, the bakers, butcher, saddlers, petrol garage and other general shops have closed to become residential housing.
The previous owner Mrs. Julie Barnes had run the shop and Post office for approximately 15 years up to 2005 and had decided to move on. Mrs. Barnes had built a successful and respected business. However with the housing market in slowdown in 2005 no prospective buyers could be found to take over and invest in the concern. The real possibility of the Shops closure caused local villagers to meet to discuss possible options.
It was agreed at a subsequently well-attended village meeting on the 6th September 2005 and with the support of the Parish Council, that a nominated Committee was to be set up, and a short-term lease be negotiated with Mrs Barnes. This was achieved in June 2005 on a 9-month lease with the option of a further longer lease being negotiated once the Committee had investigated all options and its operating viability. At present we are operating on a monthly rolling lease arrangement under the existing terms and conditions.
The committee took the decision to de-link the Post Office operation from the Store, and to enable the smooth and continuous operation of the Post Office counter two members of the committee undertook formal training, whilst this was being undertaken a separate business plan was being undertaken by Ms Trudie Deane who has subsequently taken responsibility for the Post Office operation and thus receive direct emoluments through the Post Office.
After a number of options were considered it was decided to run the business as a limited company and not to operate as a village co-operative, as a co-operative would rely too heavily on the good will of a small number of people. Investment was raised through the issue of shares from local residents at £1,000 per share. An initial draw down was made via selected investors to secure stock, legal contracts and operating hardware.
This decision necessitated in setting up a limited company ‘Whiteparish Village Store Limited’ with two directors (now Five). Management of the shop was of prime concern and was secured by agreeing a contract with an existing member of the original staff. New part time contracts were then issued to cover part time staff. Procedures were then drafted and provided to all staff to ensure all health and safety policies, discrimination policies, theft policies, grievance procedures and handling policies met existing employment law and good practice.
The two Directors and the shop manager Mandy Webb have attended and passed the new course required by legislation to sell alcohol, they were subsequently given appropriate licenses by the magistrates’ court in 2005.
The manager has attended heath and safety courses on food handling, food storage and the storage and use of dangerous chemicals (e.g. cleaning items).
The shops core strength is its location, both strategically and within an affluent catchment area. It has excellent management and can respond to customer requests very quickly.
Unlike a sole proprietor with the current organisation it can call of a number of specialisms within the village, to date use has been made of Personnel, Financial, Construction, Contract Negotiation and Business Planning experts, all given freely.
The major competitors could be seen as the large out of town superstores (nearest being 8 mile away on the edge of Salisbury ). However this would only apply if the shops strategic vision were to compete on basic convenience goods. Local smaller shops selling some comparable goods is a comparable Post Office Stores in Wellow (6 miles) and Sherfield English (4 miles).
We have succeed by focusing on: -
Continuing to providing a local service
The supply of quality locally produced goods (e.g. eggs, meat)
To provide high value specialist goods (e.g. delicatessen)
Continue to stock everyday and emergency items
Added a range of hot food and now a hot drinks area
We provide a cheerful and welcoming environment in which to shop, and
Add value by offering additional benefits (e.g. free home delivery, seasonal turkey sales)
The next exciting phase of our development is now underway as we have achieved planning consent to build three starter homes at the rear of the shop which when sold will allow us together with business loans buy out the shop on behalf of the village. It is envisaged that future funding will be raised through loans and local bonds.