Big Plan updates:
We’re really pleased to let you know we have finalised missives on a new property for our Big Plan… and it is in the South Side. Subject to our planning and building warrant application being granted within three months, we have secured a long term lease on the former Pandora Bar on Victoria Road/Calder Street.
For us it is a near ideal location in the heart of the area we have grown up and developed in over the last 5 years. At 6,000 sq ft it is a substantially sized property and will be one of the largest retail outlets on Victoria Road.
Plans for the new store include doing much more of everything we already do. The large grocery store will sell a much wider range and include new departments, such as a deli, and a wider range of organic packaging free foods and goods. An organic café will serve seasonal food straight from our land every day, while a function room will host regular events. The location will also be home to our offices and pack room for our veg box and wholesale orders.
The property is already fitted with a big kitchen which will be used to produce much of our own preserves and deli items, while also allowing us to run regular cookery workshops and events.
Once the property is open we will close our Calder Street office and warehouse, and the current shop at Nithsdale Road. This will let us do everything more efficiently at one larger location.
It’s been a really long process to get to here, with our Big Plan now almost two years old. We hope we are very nearly there now and there will be no further set backs. Over the coming weeks we will be in touch with those of you who registered interest in our loanstock offer way back at the start of 2016 to see if you are still able to invest, and invite others to invest if we are short.
The next few months will also see us move into full project management mode as we finalise designs, recruit contractors, connect with new suppliers and grow our team.
We’d like to thank you for your patience so far ask you to keep you fingers crossed for our planning application!
We’re really excited to be staying in the Southside and hope to have more to tell you soon as things progress.
Sooo.. There has been a big gap since our last last update in January. Following successfully getting together the finance we needed to purchase the store on High Street the seller pulled out at the last moment, deciding they no longer wanted to sell the property.
We were obviously very frustrated having put a huge amount of time and energy into the location and having spent money on architectural and legal fees.
Since then we have been working looking at several other locations and should have some news to announce soon..
There has been lots going on over the last year to push forward our Big Plan to launch a much larger store, including searching for the right property and getting the finance required in place. Some of this we have had to be very quiet about but we are now very pleased to finally be able to give you an update on progress towards our Big Plan to open a much larger grocery store!
We’ve now secured all the finance we need to launch the store! Since the last update the loanstock intent to invest rose to £110k, we secured £50k through a private investor and as a result have been awarded £100k match funding through Firstport’s Launch Me programme. We have now also secured a further grant and a mortgage to purchase the property which we have identified.
The property we have found for our new bigger grocery store is on High Street in the Merchant City near the centre of Glasgow. Subject to planning and building warrant we will purchase the property and begin work to turn it into our first big store.
The property itself is around 4000sqft and has a fantastic circular frontage which looks out over High Street. The area has a large working population (from art studios to Council offices) which we think will be great for people popping in after work, there is also a big student population in the area and quite a lot of mixed housing within walking distance from the shop. For those coming from further away there’s good transport links and a large car park at the rear.
Plans for the new store include a greater selection of all the things we already sell as well as great organic wines, more household goods and a much wider range of unpackaged grains, nuts, dried fruit and spices. We also plan to install kitchen where we will make our own preserves and cook for a deli counter and organic cafe.
We’re now working with an architect to put together the drawings needed to submit planning and building warrant applications. All going well with those we will be able to go ahead with the purchase of the building and start building work and fitting out of the shop from the end of May.
In the meantime we’re working on lots of other things including layout designs, range selection and getting the systems in place that we will need to run a much larger store.
We’re really excited about the months ahead but our fingers are still very much crossed that it all goes to plan, or at least close enough to plan!
We’ll keep you up to date with how things are progressing over time.
Thanks again for all your help and support to date!
Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last few months:
- We’ve run a successful Crowd Fund campaign which raised £17k (from 300 people in 42 days) towards the project and gave us some money to help move the project to the next stage. See: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/BigPlan
- We’ve secured a place on First Port’s social enterprise accelerator programme, Launch Me. With entry to the programme we secured £17.5k of funding which we have been using to develop our ideas and become investment ready. Through Launch Me we’re also receiving business guidance and the opportunity to meet with private investors and social lenders. The programme will also match fund up to £100k of what we can raise.
Recruited Locavore Luminaries
- Locavore Luminaries are volunteers who will shed light on our plans through focus groups and research sessions which will provide feedback and input into our plans and decision making.
Research & Idea Development
- We’ve done a lot of research looking at how similar retail models of comparable scale work elsewhere in the world. This has included visiting and meeting with many other businesses.
- As part of this our team have spent a week working with UK’s largest co-operative retailer in Manchester where we were given access to everything from set up costs and systems, to finance and IT.
Preparing to be Bigger
- We’ve begun acting like a bigger shop through direct bulk buying and developing admin and retail systems which can grow as we do. These include recently upgrading our till and accounting systems and developing policies and procedures which can easily scale as we do.
- We’ve recruited two new members of staff to our retail team (using some money from our crowd funder) to both free up more staff time to work on the Big Plan and expand the pool of knowledge in the team. They will also help get the structures in place at our current shop which can be easily adapted to a larger store such as training & departmental responsibilities.