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Pinkie Farm


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Pinkie Farm convenience store

The newly built Pinkie Farm Convenience Store on the outskirts of Edinburgh neatly replaced the original convenience store on the same site, which began life as a simple farm shop in the late 1960s.

It follows a collaboration between former Bellvue Cash & Carry owner Graham Benson and convenience store stalwart and former longstanding Nisa partner David Sands, who have gone into business with Colin Smith, the former regional manager for Bestway Direct in Scotland. “I’ve been in the business for about 18 years. I went into Cash & Carry Wholesale when I left university and had been dealing with Pinkie Farm Shop all those years,” says Colin. “When the opportunity to buy the farm store came up I didn’t have the financial investmentrequired, but along with Graham and David, who I’d approached, we went into business. It was a bit like Dragon’s Den.”

The investment is proving to be a very wise one, Colin believes. “We’re actually in the middle of a housing scheme. There are 480 new homes being built around us. “We bought this business and meanwhile Taylor-Wimpey bought the surrounding land. So we built the new shop while they were building the houses around it. Now, within our catchment area there are about 4,500 homes.”

The store opened on 27th May, and measures around 6,000 sq.ft. in total, with a 4,500 sq.ft. sales area. Colin describes the store demographic as “half and half,” as a result of the variety of homes that surround it. “The immediate housing in the area is council owned, but within that there are some middle class properties, and then on the outer part of our catchment area there are some very well to do homes. So I’ve got a very good mix of customers. MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind is one of my customers, and we have footballers too, so it’s a broad range,” he explains.

Colin and his team have been Nisa partners since day one. He says this was largely to help cater for both old and new customers. “I married Nisa’s suggested range with what the old store already stocked, which was a job and a half! I wanted to make sure I was giving the existing customer base what it was looking for.” New customers, Colin says, have certainly provided him with the opportunity to stock more indulgent lines. “We’re not selling Cristal Champagne, but we’ve got some high end wines, such as Chablis - those £15 or more wines,” he says. “With Nisa, it’s going very well. It’s simple and it’s fully automated. We place orders online and they turn up two days later. I came from the wholesale sector, so I know what it’s like, and I can’t fault Nisa at all for availability and the way it delivers to retailers,” he adds

This approach to business and viewing it from all sides extends to Colin’s beliefs about retail in general. “Retail is about ongoing development - if you’re not continually looking at your business and investing in it, you’re going backwards. There are many things that I still want to implement that have not been done yet, and a key one is community integration. It takes time, but it’s key to an independent retailer’s success. We were at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation awards recently and although we didn’t win we were a nominated finalist for community retailer of the year.” he says.

Speaking with Colin, it is clear that community is key to his vision for the new store. “We’ve only been open four months, but we’ve already been actively involved with the local school - they did a mural for us which is in our foyer. That area is normally for selling gardening items, but it’s also for the community. People can use it for fundraising. We had a Macmillan coffee morning there, and it will be run by the local community. It was shoppers that ran it, while staff and locals baked for it. It really was about getting the community involved.”

Colin and the team also have plans to advertise the Making A Difference Locally charity in store for the community. “We’re getting a board for the store to tell customers what they’re raising money for,” he says.

Online marketing is also a key strategy for him and has given some interesting and beneficial results. “Facebook is extremely important for us and through that we got the local community involved before we’d even opened. We gave a choice of shopping trolleys and baskets. There was also a choice to be made between a Costa, or a locally sourced brand, Brodies. There aren’t many coffee manufacturers in the UK, but coincidentally we had one on our doorstep! So that’s now in our food to go area,” Colin explains.

Finally, readers may wonder where the name Pinkie comes from. Colin can explain: “It actually comes from the road name here and the original farm was also called Pinkie Farm. So the shop was always called Pinkie Farm Shop and we wanted to keep that heritage and the name. We’re co-branded with Nisa now, but if I’d gone solely with Nisa people would still have called it Pinkie's anyway. It’s about keeping familiarity as it’s a well known name.”

Store facts and figures

Pinkie Farm Convenience Store, Musselburgh

Store location: Centre of new housing estate

Store size: 6,000 sq.ft.

Number of staff: 28

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