Sulgrave Village Shop is in its fourth trading year and has enjoyed a most successful start up period. In 2007 it recorded its first small profit on a turnover of £137,000. However in 2008 turnover is down and the shop might well trade at a loss. While the shop is in a relatively robust state it cannot sustain ongoing losses. The presence of the shop in the village is a great asset, particularly in these times of rising fuel and food prices. After such a promising beginning it would be a tremendous loss if the shop was to go into decline and therefore it is important that a viable and sustainable future is found. The Management Committee has projected the need for a turnover in excess of £150,000 for the shop to become commercially sustainable. If 2007 represents a peak in the shop’s current sales capacity, then questions have to be answered about the future.
While every effort is being made to expand the appeal of the shop within the village and to surrounding villages, the achievement of an increase of £20,000 in turnover is a big ask and therefore serious consideration may have to be given to some other ways of running the shop. These would almost certainly involve a reduced level of service and would not necessarily be in the best interests of the community. For the shop to have a viable future there are two key challenges that must be met.
Firstly, the shop’s cash resources must be sustained. Trading losses have to be underwritten by the introduction of new capital which might be found from new members and the establishment of an annual subscription, or by fund raising events as required. At current levels of trading it is likely that annual losses in the region of £1,000 to £1,500 might accrue. Also there are outstanding loans which are due for repayment in 2009 which will eat into limited capital reserves and reduce any capacity to finance possible losses. Ideally, new capital will be raised during the next 18 months to replace these loans and meet trading losses. Secondly, there must be the continued support of volunteers and the active involvement of a management committee with a range of skills including retailing, purchasing, accounting and administration. This continuity is perhaps the greater of the two challenges. New input is required and those that have carried the responsibility must be allowed to pass it on. In 2009, after five years, it will be time for at least two new members to stand for appointment to the Management Committee.
These matters do not require immediate action; there is a year in which to consider what is best for the village. The Management Committee looks to the community for its contribution to the debate in reviewing the challenges that face the future of YOUR shop. An open meeting is being planned for October to hear your views.
An increase of £20,000 in sales equates to an extra £400 per week; or 40 people spending an extra £10 per week; or 80 people spending £5 per week. A round trip to Banbury in a family car costs almost £3 in fuel.