Big Plan updates:
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.