28 December 2018, 11:38 AM
  • Refurbishing and expanding a shop can bring in considerable benefits, but as John Bensalhia finds out, advance planning is key to a successful outcome
Key things to consider before undertaking an expansion or refurbishment

A new look is inevitable in all walks of life. Is your car on its last wheels? Time to put that bank balance into fifth gear and buy a new motor! Hair too long? Off to the barbers or hairdressers for a stylish new cut! Does your house need a bit of TLC? Bring on the paints, wallpaper and new carpets! The same applies to shop refurbishment and expansion. A number of farm shops have recently invested in a brand new look.

There are many good reasons for refurbishing and expanding a shop. Product placement. Improved accessibility. Or simply to show off a modern, fresher feel to the shop. Harker’s Farm Shop in Nottinghamshire, for example, has introduced a new butchery counter, maturing fridge and deli counter, as well as new floors and cladding, upgrades to the electrics and water system, and a new production room.

Room for produce
A common reason for expansion is to accommodate the growing levels of products in the shop. The Lincoln-based Doddington Hall Farm Shop, for instance, has been extended in order to provide room for its greater range of products.

The project boasts a bigger deli and an expanded butchery area, as well as a new wine shop and a space that has been created for a new range of items such as professional cookware. With more locally sourced beers and spirits, the extension is an ideal way of showcasing these new arrivals, and furthermore, the wine shop’s tasting area allows customers to sample some of the finest wines on the market.

Wakefield’s Blacker Hall Farm Shop has refurbished and expanded its butchery counter as a means of displaying a wider range of new products. A notable new addition is a dedicated wet fish counter that provides fresh fish and shellfish to customers. Following Blacker Hall’s partnership with Hodgsons Fish, the wet fish counter is the perfect place to sell high quality fresh Hodgsons’ catches. Another new aspect is the dry-aging cabinet that allows customers to say how long they would like their selected choice of meat to be aged.

Meanwhile, Watson Smyth Farms Ltd, which owns Tregirls Farm’s Padstow Farm Shop, has renovated a former grain mill roundhouse, converting it into a 576-square-foot deli. This new facility allows the farm shop to expand its home-grown produce ranges, such as salads, casseroles and fresh sandwiches.

Planning and budget
Any project on this scale needs careful preparation and pre-planning. One of the biggest considerations is budget. The scope of the refurbishment and expansion depends on how much money is in the kitty. In many cases, a loan is the solution, and with a detailed plan that can explain how the proposed changes will bring in more custom (recouping the costs in the process), the bank will be confident enough to lend you the money.

In cases of a tighter budget, think about what resources you have at your disposal. Maybe you have enough experience and skill to work on the renovations yourself or perhaps friends or family can help pitch in. Consider what you hope to get out of the new look. It could just be a classic case of Feng Shui. Rearranging the furniture to maximise the space at your disposal won’t break the bank. In cases of redecoration, decide on a suitable colour scheme, and shop around for affordable but high quality items that will add a fresh splash of colour to your shop.

If you have enough money, or have secured a bank loan, it’s worth looking at specialist companies that can do the job for you. With experience, technology and resources at their disposal, everything can be planned and carried out to the letter from the early days of design through to the finishing touches.

HB Projects, for example, worked on Keelham Farm Shop’s new shop and café. From the original brief, HB Projects ensured that all the requirements were met, ensuring
value and quality. Among the specified works were decoration, signage, tiling and vinyl floors, dry-lining, joinery, M&E, plus refrigeration and coldrooms.

HK Interiors also offers a full package that includes experienced design teams, state of the art software (including CAD and 3D modelling) and professional fitters. Hayward’s Farmshop used HK Interiors to work on refurbishment, creating a modern, fresh look which was done to the highest standard.

Customer feedback
Refurbishing or expanding a farm shop is all about attracting more custom. A good method is to ask the customers directly what they want through surveys. Whether it’s online or good, old-fashioned pen and paper, a customer survey can find out key attractions and also potential improvements. The layout should also reflect the target market that you’re after. If you’re after a younger target market, a more conventional look may be regarded as too old-fashioned. The other side of this coin is to alienate an older target audience with a modern, funky look that’s too snazzy for some tastes.

Ludlow Food Centre’s new rebranding as Ludlow Farmshop has prompted a number of notable changes to the shop layout. Some of these have taken customer opinions on board with regards to accessibility (for example, two of the retail area counters have been removed, based on customer feedback) and reducing waiting times during busy periods.

Refurbishing and expanding a shop is a case of chicken and egg. While initial funding is required, if the project is completed to a high standard, this will be an excellent way of attracting even more custom, bringing in revenue that will not only recoup the original costs, but will add a profit on top. It’s a win-win situation for both the customer (who can be wowed by the greater selection of products and the all-new surroundings) and the business (more customers, more profits).

Definitely a change for the better.