Bay Bashir: Want to be successful? Be passionate!

January 24, 2017
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Retailer Profile: Belle Vue, Middlesbrough

If you know convenience retailing, then you’ll most likely know Bay Bashir. One of the stand-out characters of the industry, Bay has built up a reputation as a successful retailer that puts his heart into everything he does. Well respected amongst his peers, Bay was the winner of the Retailer’s Retailer of the Year award at the 2016 Convenience Retail Awards, one of many past accolades. We visited him at his Belle Vue store in Middlesbrough where he shared some of his secrets with us.

Within the first 60 seconds of meeting him, it was clear that great passion drives Bay. He was friendly and engaging, not only to me but his staff and his customers; I must say the feeling was infectious! His simple yet brilliant ethos towards business centres around the shopper experience and his social responsibilities as a community retailer and an employer.

Shopper Experience

Visiting Belle Vue is a pleasant experience. The layout is sensible, easy to navigate and never felt busy, even when there were plenty of shoppers. The checkout section is well planned with multiple tills and ample space for queueing which ensures that lines do not spill out into the aisles.

For a relatively small store, the range is comprehensive. I was pleased to see that all of the standard products were available in the store, so range and stock shortage issues, prevalent in many stores, are not issues here. In fact, products were thoughtfully placed throughout the store. Bay regularly uses his ShopMate EPoS System and back office to ensure that every metre of shelf space is stocked with products that sell and is not afraid to delist and move less successful products. One example of this is his news and magazines section which, in light of declining sales has been reduced to just a metre with a focus on a handful of key magazine titles and newspapers.

We’ve known about the decline of news and magazines for a while and decided to make better use of the space. Since the reduction in range, we’ve seen no drop in sales for that category. The same is true for greetings cards. – Bay Bashir.

The cards section has been reduced in size and relocated to make better use of the space. It is now located above a chest freezer full of ice cream, creating a metre of valuable shelf space elsewhere in the store. Interestingly, this innovative idea did not come from Bay himself but, from a member of staff who had observed the wasted opportunity from the checkouts and spoke out. Bay thought it was a great idea and quickly relocated the stand. As mentioned, he has seen no drop in sales despite the reduced range.

Responsible Retailing

Like any business, staff are the most important asset to have. Knowing this, Bay works hard to create an inclusive, supportive team in his store, empowering staff to look out for each other and work together.

We’re all stronger when we work together. I think it’s very important that we all work as a team. That way the more experienced staff can share their knowledge and the newer staff can share their unique ideas. – Bay Bashir

As well as being encouraged to work as a team, each member of staff is given responsibilities allowing them to take pride in their work. Bay makes sure that his staff are prepared for the added pressure with extensive training in health and safety and licensing law. He even goes the extra mile in ensuring age check compliance with his ShopMate EPoS System automatic age checks on alcohol and by carrying out test purchases in addition to those from Trading Standards. When his staff successfully identify underage customers, Bay makes sure that they are rewarded for a job well done.

You need to tell your staff when they do something wrong, but it’s just as important to pat them on the back when they do something right. Positive reinforcement is essential. – Bay Bashir.

When asked about the living wage, Bay, ever the optimist, saw the bright side of increasing wages.

The great thing about paying your staff more is that you can expect more out of them. I don’t want my staff to just stand behind the till; I want them to be a positive presence while they’re at work and the living wage helps ensure that this happens. – Bay Bashir

Retailing in the community

Bay knows that it’s not just the staff, but the local community that makes his store what it is and as such, engages with local people regularly with sponsorship, fundraising and more.

When you first enter Belle Vue, you are sure to spot a large photo of Boro Rangers football club, the football team that Belle Vue Convenience Store sponsors. When asked about the motivation behind the sponsorship, Bay explained that he didn’t think of it as marketing but instead about helping local people.

When it comes to sponsorship, you have to do it for the right reasons. It should always be about helping people. – Bay Bashir

As well as sponsoring a local youth team, Bay was also integral in forming a team for disabled players. He visits them regularly to see how they’re getting on. It’s not just sponsorship that Bay is passionate about; he is also a keen fundraiser for a variety of local causes.

I previously mentioned Bay’s commitment to teamwork and personal responsibility and this ethos is a central part of the fundraising effort at Belle Vue Convenience. Each member of staff has the freedom to explore fundraising ideas and undertake a charitable activity at least once a year. Not only does this help the local community but it also builds confidence and helps members of staff develop.

Belle Vue

Plans for the future

Finally, when asked about his plans for 2017, Bay demonstrated that he was always looking and moving forward. As well as giving the store a refreshing new look and investing in new loyalty incentives, he’s also planning on exploring the fresh and chilled category in much more depth.

The old footfall drivers just don’t work anymore. It’s clear that the money is moving into fresh food and chilled products, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on in 2017. – Bay Bashir

Bay Bashir

Lessons from Bay Bashir

Never stop developing your store:There’s always something to improve. It’s important to look at the weaknesses in your business and make improvements where they are most needed.

Your staff are your greatest asset: Keep developing your team. If you delegate responsibility and encourage every member of staff to thrive, you’ll enjoy the benefits of an engaged, hard-working team.

Be passionate about what you do: Success always comes after hard work and hard work is much more enjoyable and fruitful when fuelled by passion. Be passionate, and your business will see the benefits.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Bay for his hospitality and for allowing me to explore his business and understand how his passion for retailing has lead to great success.

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