A letter to the whole of the Clatfords community on the future of the shop
Our shop is the heart of our village and its continuing success and ongoing role in providing the range of services to the combined Clatford Villages is the first priority of the shop management committee. An eventful year in 2021 saw the shop recover from a terrible fire and undergo a complete re-fit and relaunch whilst never once closing its doors. Despite all the turmoil of 2021 the shop has remained in profit for the second successive year, at the same time delivering against our key strategy of providing a community hub alongside the provision of groceries, luxuries, and services for the three villages. It is that strategy and our desire to see the shop persist and flourish into which we want your input.
Since the relaunch, revenues have remained consistently 25-30% above the levels they were for the equivalent period in the previous trading year meaning we believe the shop to be on a strong footing commercially for the future. As we turn to that future, we as a management committee face several key challenges as to how we continue to deliver the shop and its core functions sustainably whilst fulfilling the obligations to the community both in terms of services and value.
The shop committee is a small team of volunteers who fulfil all the usual functions of business governance and management in their own time. Over much of last year we completed that as a team of just four and have only recently added two new members, at the start of 2022. However, the shop is a complex and intense small business that needs ongoing consistent direct operational leadership, constant research and innovation to maintain the fresh and professional feel and to deliver the required level of service to our community.
Maintaining a successful service requires a huge and constant personal and time commitment from an operational lead on the committee. Kate Crow agreed to temporarily shoulder the workload burden through 2021, during the refurbishment and was persuaded to carry on into 2022. Despite requests to the community and an on-going recruitment drive we have been unable to find someone to take on this position. As a committee, we agree that this cannot continue and the rest of us are unable to assist day to day and therefore, for the shop to continue, a permanent solution needs to be found.
In addition to this our treasurer who so ably managed 2021, including the whole refurbishment, the insurance process and the transition to new IT systems, has had to reluctantly step down at the end of 2021 due to burgeoning work commitments.
So, we face a dilemma. A stronger more sustainable shop but a depleted team, desperately in need of more support to be able to run it. As a committee we have deliberated hard on this and believe we have two potential options to put to the community to determine the future of your shop.
1. Appeal for and recruit new committee members who have the knowledge, skill, the drive and the available time to lead the shop operations and finance functions
2. Consider returning the shop to private ownership and provide the opportunity for one or more individuals to take the business forward subject to seeking the necessary approvals.
Without the correct structure, support and leadership, all the work of the community, staff, volunteers and committee members past and present over the years is in danger of being eroded and the shop will not be sustainable either commercially or as a community hub. As a management team we believe now is that time to act, whilst we are in a strong position to determine our future. As such we would like to invite you to an initial community consultation meeting on 30th March 2022 at 19:30 at the village club where we will present and discuss all the above in more detail and provide a Q&A to answer any questions. This will allow us 7 weeks until the Shop AGM on the 18th May 2022 to prepare a strategy on behalf of the community on which the shop shareholders can vote.
As a team we are resolute in our determination to maintain the Village Shop at the heart of the Clatfords but we seek counsel and commitment from you, as the community we serve, on how you can help us to deliver that. We look forward to welcoming you to that discussion on the 30th March.
If you are unable to make the 30th March but have an enquiry or you have a request for further detail or want information on how can get involved please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
17th March 2022