The founding directors - Gordon Miller and Rhys Evans - worked for a large discounter chain and the idea of introducing an efficiency-working model into the convenience sector appealed to both. Brought up in predominantly Welsh farming communities, both directors could see the advantage of providing jobs for local people and supporting local producers as a point of differentiation. Whilst focussing on competitive pricing for fuel and goods, the focus was on driving footfall into stores and gaining volume sales with a vision of creating a sustainable business for the benefit of workers, customers and shareholders.

Our main challenges when starting the business

The first three stores were two rural forecourts and one village convenience store and the challenges were brand awareness i.e. what was the point of difference? Securing and retaining staff that were comfortable in an environment that required lone working, multi-tasking and specific time and motion skills was also crucial. Funding and set up costs are always a challenge for any new business and a robust and financially viable business plan had to be presented to secure investment from lending facilities. Particular reference to return on investment and payback periods had to be based on credible site assessment projections. Competitive advantage was a particular challenge especially on how to differentiate from other convenience stores and how to retain the `local` image when customers were looking for proprietary names and brands.

Success Factor

Identifying and seizing an opportunity that no-one has yet realised was a key factor, especially by looking at the bigger picture at how underperforming stores can thrive if overhead costs are managed efficiently. High Noon Stores has also used the experience and expertise of companies such as Spar, Costa, Post Office, Murco and Gulf to identify growth opportunities. It has also focused on staff training and development, including the recruitment and selection of personnel that can work and grow in a process driven environment; training to ensure that multi-tasking, time and motion, financial/waste management and productivity initiatives are maximised; initiatives that are target driven, monitored and measured; and providing a platform for individuals to realise their potential and seize opportunities.

The Future

In addition to growing relationships with brand partners and welsh local producers, plans include a development programme for existing sites, including expansion, re-fits, pump upgrades, a million pounds of funding has been set aside to support this area of the business. There will also be a continued expansion of the estate, including a flagship store in Cardiff to open in early October followed by rural stores in West Wales and Cheltenham. There will be a focus on growth in the South West of England where an area operations manager has been engaged to support up to 20 sites. Internally, the firm will develop its existing internal IT system to maximise financial and operational support through managing efficiencies and continue its training and development programme for existing management and staff.