My typical day as a retailer? Well, it starts at around 5.30am when I wake up, then check my emails and Twitter while I’m in the bathroom.
By 6.30am, I’m opening our Tile Hill standalone c-store and remotely checking the forecourt store for sales, wastage etc and likewise with our KwikSave.
Then I process updates, check for new products and ensure orders are collated. Come 9.30am, my daily trip around the stores starts. I check store standards, talk though ideas with the team and make sure they’re happy then, most importantly, make sure the reconciliation is correct.
At 12.30, I make my way back to Tile Hill and have lunch with the family. This is a definite ’must’ in my working day!
Throughout the day, meetings with suppliers take place. They’re all about managing the product categories to drive performance and get the most from our fixtures.
And I mustn’t forget the all-important customer interaction that needs to take place throughout the day.
We always have to keep an eye on what’s new in our industry as well as think about what we can do to drive change. This is all part of our busy day looking at what the ’big four’ are doing!
My thoughts on the industry? Overall it’s challenging but very rewarding. We acquired our forecourt site last December, and I’ve found that it’s a different pace selling fuel as there’s no time to chat as in a local convenience store, but you still need to offer good customer service.
Retailing for me started after I left school aged 16. I worked for the family business alongside my brother Pinda (pictured with me, bottom right), learning the ropes and making plenty of mistakes along the way.
The family took a 1,200sq ft store, and through development and hard work, produced a well-renowned modern c-store.
When you look at the sector, you can see the ’big four’ closing in, which only serves to drive more pride in what we are doing.
We’ve found that today’s consumers are after pay at pump, coffee at pump, shop by phone, tap and go anything that makes things more convenient for them. And it’s this innovation that will undoubtedly drive our success.
So what’s great about this industry? The people we get to meet, the interactions we get to share, and not forgetting the cheeky beer or three!
Our biggest challenge recently, not surprisingly, has been the forecourt. We had to ask ourselves how can we use the Cheema passion and drive the litreage! But it gives us all great pride to share with you that in the eight months since the handover, we have seen and developed a genuine 100%-plus increase in sales and footfall.
We’re in this sector because we love the drive, the passion, the people, being at the heart of the community and not forgetting that our customers are our friends. The only downside with working a 12-hour day is having to spend too much time with the wife!
Name: Paul Cheema
Company: Malcolm’s Stores (a Costcutter convenience store, a KwikSave store and a Costcutter/Texaco forecourt)
Job Title: Director
Greatest Achievement: Nominating the founder of our business, Malcolm, our dad, to win The Lifetime Achievement Award
Tips for business success: Always be focused and never be scared to ask for help, but set yourself a goal
Other info: Director on the Independents board of the ACS as well as chairman of the Costcutter National Retail Forum
Most likely to say: "We can drive this harder"
Least likely to say: "Have a day off"
Interests: Cars, good food and enjoying time with my children