The Instagram logo

Post-pandemic retailing

We asked health food retailers Callum Eddie and Matt Ronan how their businesses have changed since the pandemic and how they are dealing with inflation and supply issues

Q How did the pandemic change your business model?

Matt Ronan: When the pandemic hit we were forced to simplify everything and focus on serving people and addressing their immediate needs. We were operating with a reduced workforce therefore we closed the shop at lunchtime and everyone was able to relax for a little while and enjoy lunch together, and we also shortened our working day to close at 5:30 instead of 6 pm.

We have continued with both of these changes as we feel that it has improved the quality of life for all of us and that when customers get used to the revised hours they are happy enough to work within them.

Callum Eddie: We reduced opening times by an hour, opening half-an-hour later and closing half-an-hour earlier, and no longer opening on a Sunday. We kept on top of business overheads and costs. And had a greater focus on cleaning and sanitising surfaces. We developed our website to counter the reduction of in-store customers. Interestingly, we find that our customers now shop both in-store and online and our home delivery service is also an option.

Q How has rising inflation and cost-of-living affected your business and what are you doing to help your customers?

Callum Eddie: Business is more challenging now than during covid period. Footfall in Aberdeen City Centre has been impacted like many towns and cities but the problem here has been exacerbated by the major transitional works that are ongoing and further traffic restrictions being imposed to deter car use in the city centre.

More than ever we now keep sight of the price changes on products, particularly those supplied by wholesalers because with such a variety of brands, prices can change daily.

Business accounting has always been important but during these challenging times you do need to be fully conversant with the financial performance of your store. We have always done our accounting and payroll in-house and this provides us with a firm understanding of exactly where we are daily.

We have a customer reward scheme in place where points can be collected and redeemed either in-store or online if they have signed up. Also, we pass on supplier discounts to the benefit of the customer.

Matt Ronan: I think all retail businesses are noticing a reduction in spend, therefore we have reintroduced our promotional days which focus hugely on additional value to the customer in order to show that we are addressing these customer concerns.

Q Are supply chain issues continuing to affect your product range and what are you doing to maintain it?

Matt Ronan: I don't feel that supply is hugely hindering the business at present, in comparison to the way that Brexit caused a huge amount of supply difficulty when it was at its peak. It’s still a problem, but more manageable.

Callum Eddie: Supply chain issues have improved and we utilise our EPOS system fully to provide the information that we require to hopefully keep our stock at an acceptable level. We are presently rationalising our stock holding and brands to become leaner and more efficient.

Read more articles from our latest issue...