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Major Investment at Robinson’s of Ballymena pays off with a stunning new-look

Bigger and better than ever before, the owners and management of Robinson’s of Ballymena Nisa Extra are delighted with their recently completed development, which sees the forecourt and convenience store morph into an independent supermarket for the local community – and beyond.

But as manger Gary Olphert explains – the real work is only just beginning as they build on success to date with a raft of new initiatives and services.

With new suppliers and a bigger range than ever before, wider Shopping Aisles , more parking with larger spaces, K&G McAtamney Butchery, Hot and Cold Deli and Off Sales ins-store plus lottery, Paypoint, Express, Checkout or Self Serve, 24 Hour Petrol & Diesel, 100s of Robinsons own branded fresh foods, a Hot Drinks Station, newspapers and magazines and 24 Hour ATM, Gary Olphert talks IF&CR through it all.

“It was chaotic for a while but it was well worth it,” said Gary, who has worked for Robinson’s of Ballymena since leaving school in 1990, working his way up to manager, having been with the family-owned and run business for over 34 years.

“Previously, there was around 6,000 square feet. That’s been extended to 11,000 square feet, so almost doubled in size.

“We’ve built a new 3,000 square foot large commercial kitchen and prep room. The demand for fresh food has been one of the driving factors and quite simply, it’s wonderful.

“There’s room for staff to operate, and there’s also a new basement for storage,” explained Gary.

“It looks like a brand new building. The whole forecourt has been re-styled and designed with new parking spaces and a one way system.

“We also bought some land and dwellings across the road to dedicate to staff car parking. We have 85 staff now and while they are not all on duty at the same time, there was a need to free up space for customer parking.

“We now have 100 spaces for customer parking, and 40-50 spaces for staff.

“We started planning the project long before Covid, which brought a lot of panic and uncertainty for retail. We didn’t know what lay two weeks ahead, never mind two years ahead – but it gave us an extra two years to plan.

“We’re passionate about independent retailing. By increasing the size of the store we’ve increased the amount of footfall and the size of the aisles. There is a Tesco, Sainsburys and Lidl in Ballymena, but the size and appearance of our store now enables us to really serve the local community. Robinson’s own brand range is being made fresh in our own kitchen for people who can’t cook/won’t cook – for people who are time poor – yet at a cost-effective price.

“That’s the part that we expect to grow well – freshly made full meals and dinners, fresh chopped fruit and so on.

“Our in-store K&G McAtamney Butchery was the first satellite butchery by the Ballymena butchers – who have a great location on Greenvale Street in the town, we were really impressed by what they’ve done there. The sandwich bar, deli, the range of offering puts us in a very positive position – and the feedback has been fabulous."

We’re passionate about independent retailing. The demand for fresh food has been one of the driving factors and quite simply, it’s wonderful.
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