But Who Did It?

When we all woke up this morning, there was a lovely big banner across the front of the shop – see the attached picture!

All of us working to keep the shop running would like to say our big “thank-you” to those people who took the trouble to make and erect the  banner – it was much appreciated..

Our SHOP and Coronavirus

Well, if anybody had any doubts about the value of the shop to the community, those doubts should now have been blown away! The efforts of our reduced team of staff and volunteers led by the inexhaustible and endlessly inventive Jillian have ensured that we have been able to keep the village supplied with almost all its daily needs. One of the heartening things has been to see the effort put in by some of our village teenagers –  William Lawson, Poppy and Barney Lankester, Matilda Bloomfield and Daisy Burrows – who have brightened up the shop with their cheerfulness and willingness to undertake any task. We have also see a number of new adult volunteers who have come forward to fill the gaps left by some of our older volunteers who are (rightly) self-isolating.

Let’s hope it’s all over soon and we can all return to normal.

New blood for the Management Committee

The last Annual Members’ Meeting saw the departure from the Committee of Salle Wroblewski, Mike Shaw, Judy Craig and Les Farris and we are very grateful to all of them for their varied contributions to the work of the Committee. We were delighted to see Pippa Reynolds elected to the Committee at the AMM but this still left us with rather depleted numbers. However, we are delighted to report that at our last meeting, we co-opted Sheila Hayler, who has offered to alternate with Jean Roberts as Minutes Secretary and also Poppy Kennedy, whose appointment at a stroke reduced the average age of the Committee by several years…. We are delighted to have someone on the Committee to represent the particular interests of younger families.

Thank you Sheila and Poppy and we look forward to working with you!

Annual Members’ Meeting for year ending 30th September 2019

56 members of the HRCS Ltd attended the 8th Annual Members Meeting in St. George’s Hall on 14th February 2020. The Chairman of the Management Committee, David Clements, was able to report another satisfactory year, with profit before tax of £7,189 well ahead of the budget figure of £5,307, although slightly down from last year’s figure of £8,027. Shareholders’ funds increased from £254,836 to £260,574. Shop sales rose significantly from £220,417 to £233,671 but  the operating profit was eroded by lower gross margin and also higher salary costs which reflect the increase in the National Living Wage. Total turnover of the business exceeded a quarter of a million pounds for the first time.

Looking to the year ahead, it has started well with sales and gross margin significantly up on last year but the main challenge we face is to find a replacement for our much-loved Jillian, who will start a well-earned retirement later this year. Nonetheless, we face the future with confidence.

Our SHOP’s Christmas Tasting events

In the run-up to  Christmas, Our SHOP has held a number of tasting events, including for Longman’s Cheese, Baboo Gelato ice cream and our very own wine collection. At late night opening on 29th November 2019,  David Adams and Caroline Vandenberg presented some lovely wines, leading to healthy Christmas orders.

Our SHOP Runner-up in 2019 Plunkett Awards

Once again, Our SHOP was Runner-up in the Better Business section of the 2019 Plunkett Foundation Awards.  Manager Jillian Fawcett went up to London on 28th November 2019 for the prize-giving, held in the impressive surroundings of Burlington House. Congratulations to Jillian and her team and all our volunteers who make the shop such a success.

Our SHOP Shortlisted for 2019 Plunkett Award!

We have just heard that we have once again been shortlisted for an award in the 2019 Plunkett Foundation’s Rural Community Business Awards.

We are one of three shortlisted in the Horace Plunkett “Better Business” category, which recognises communities that find solutions to their needs through cooperation and enterprise.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 27th November 2019. Wish us luck!

A Dog is for life, not just for Christmas……….

Hinton St. George is a village of dog-lovers and everyone knows full well the meaning of the above phrase.

If we equate a dog to Our SHOP and Christmas to the initial flurry of enthusiasm after its opening, please remember that the shop is for life! Although we have some wonderful volunteers who have turned up week in and week out for their shifts ever since we took the shop over, their number is steadily declining. If this continues, we will in the end be “heading for the Dog’s Home”.

Why are volunteers so important? Calculating the value of volunteers working behind the counter, it works out amazingly at over £20,000 per annum in terms of wages save – and before rental income, the shop last year only just broke even. Quite simply, the economics of village shops are fragile and although we have done well in our first few years, the situation is getting more difficult. With the National Living Wage rising much faster than inflation and the impact of Workplace Pensions, our salary bill is rising quickly; how much it will rise will depend on the strength of our volunteer force.

We know all the reasons why many people say that they can’t volunteer in the shop but equally we know that all our current volunteers could cite the same reasons – but they don’t because they love and value the shop and are determined to see it thrive.

PLEASE – come and give it a try. Jillian would love to see you!

Your Management Committee

Welcome Kerri!

A big welcome to Kerri Julier, who has joined the Our SHOP team as Julie Pearce’s replacement. Kerri lives with her partner in South Petherton and has two children aged 19 and 7. She says “I like to shop locally and make things to reduce the impact on the environment (as well as baking cakes!) and I like to support the local community”. After a career as a civil servant, Kerri worked for Tesco for 4 years and has extensive prior Post Office experience, which has enabled her to slot seamlessly into the team.

Interestingly, we used Facebook for the recruitment process and managed to find several suitable candidates, saving a large amount of money that would otherwise have had to be spent on advertising.

Annual Members’ Meeting For Year Ending 30th Sept. 2018

50 members of the HRCS Ltd attended the 7th Annual Members Meeting in St. George’s Hall on 15th February 2019. The Chairman of the Management Committee, David Clements, was able to report another successful year, with profit before tax up from £5,964 to £6,757 and an increase in shareholders’ funds from £247,989 to £254,836. Other financial highlights included using some surplus cash to pay down £10,000 of the mortgage, which stood at £160,818 at 30th September 2018.       

David presented the following two slides, which are based on information abstracted from a recent survey of Community-owned shops:

Average
Community
Shop
HRCS
Members177almost 400
Turnover£162k£243k
Paid Jobs48
Volunteers3040+
Gross Margin22%23.1%
Net Profit£3,816£8,027
Management Committee710

Other survey statistics:

  • 57% of shops have a mix of paid staff and volunteers.
  • Only 26% of shops own their freehold.
  • 43% of shops have a cafe.
  • 59% of shops have a Post Office.

Conclusion: We’re not doing badly!

Our SHOP selected as Rural Community Ownership Awards Runner-up for 2018

We are delighted to announce that we have been announced as a runner-up for this year’s Plunkett Foundation ‘Investing in Local People’ award sponsored by Suma Wholefoods. The Rural Community Ownership Awards are an annual celebration of community businesses from across the UK. This year, the Awards had over 50 entrants and we are delighted to have been chosen as a runner-up for this category. Members of the team attended the Awards Ceremony in London on 5 December – see picture.