SPAR convenience stores could be going upmarket as London food retailer, Eat17, is seeking to increase its partnership and open more franchised shops
Eat17 has been operating in London for 14 years successfully combining a convenience store with dining. Its partnership with AF Blakemore, owner of 300 SPAR stores across the UK, sees the grocery giant combine SPAR branding with Eat17 to create a high-end convenience store.
Eat17’s rapid growth has seen the business open four stores and enjoy an annual turnover of around £11m.
Now it’s reaching out to businesses struggling post-COVID-19 by offering a proven model to existing shops, pubs, restaurants, sandwich bars and coffee shops interested in turning floor space over to retailing. It believes many business owners will be interested in exploring how they can increase profitability by introducing a new stream of revenue into their existing location.
Independent local retailers share the same aisles as Eat17’s own branded products ensuring every store is different. Each store also offers a dining experience with menus focusing on locally sourced fresh produce and tastes from across the globe, working closely with street food vendors.
It already has successful outlets in Walthamstow, Hackney, Hammersmith and Bishops Stortford and hopes to add more to the portfolio. Founders James Brundle and Chris O’Connor are step-brothers and lifelong friends who grew up close to the first Eat17 store in Walthamstow.
After pursuing different careers, the pair came together to plough their savings into converting a run-down off licence into their first outlet. They devoted all their cash and every hour of the day to the project, even sleeping in a beaten-up red transit van outside the shop.
Chris O’Connor said: “We took over a shabby store in Walthamstow and devoted all of our time and energy into making a success of it, even sleeping outside in a van so we were always close by.
“We introduced local suppliers and it began to perform very well, which spurred us into buying the building next door which is now our very popular restaurant.
“As the store and restaurant flourished, we opened sister stores in Hackney, Hammersmith and Bishop’s Stortford.
“Each store also has a different look, which is unusual for a growing brand but it’s important for us to tailor each offering to its local area. It’s nice to offer a point of difference in each place and it seems to be very popular with customers.
After a successful 14 years in business, they believe now is the time to give other businesses a helping hand by offering them an adaptable model which could help increase profitability.
James continued: “The partnership we have with SPAR owners AF Blakemore has played a big part in our success. We’re now keen to share what we’ve learnt with businesses keen to diversify and introduce new revenue streams.
“Our offering isn’t a one size fits all. Instead, it is about us working closely with outlets to give them another stream of revenue as they adapt their businesses in these post-COVID-19 times.
“Our concept has been working well in our four stores for some time and it’s a model that can easily be applied to businesses that have struggled over recent months. We can get into businesses and give the advice they need to get the retail side off the ground and support them if they’re looking to bring additional concessions in too.
“We can also offer a large selection of foods we create ourselves from scratch including butchery items, wraps, sandwiches, sourdough bread and top-quality ready meals.”
Image: Eat 17’s independent Spar in Bishop’s Stortford