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Nisa retailer Whyte’s of New Pitsligo puts community at the heart of success

Since opening Whyte’s of New Pitsligo in April 2022, rookie retailer Julie-Ann Whyte has battled numerous bumps in the road to create an award-winning store that truly serves her community.

Like millions of others, Julie-Ann Whyte’s experience of being locked down at home during the pandemic in her home village of New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, forced her to question her career.

A globe-trotting executive in the oil and gas industry, Julie-Ann had been based in Aberdeen during the week, returning to Pitsligo at weekends. Now stuck at home, she looked more closely at the village where she, her husband, and parents, were born and bred, and made a key realisation.

“A lot of people were either furloughed or self-employed - and therefore out of work”, says Julie-Ann.

“I felt I needed to help. So, I set up a food bank and community shop and delivered essentials to elderly and vulnerable residents.”

When Covid came to an end in 2021, Julie-Ann had left her job, and a chance phone call from her mum while Julie Ann was on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales proved to be life changing. “I had no idea what I was going to do with my life,” says Julie-Ann.

“Then Mum phoned to tell me the elderly lady who had previously run the village shop - closed for 20 years - had been taken into care. Now both the shop and the four bedroomed house attached to it were for sale.”

A few days later Julie-Ann, who had not set foot in either the shop or house for decades, owned the lot. “When I went in, I thought ‘oh no, what have I done’, she laughs.

“My vision was to create a 70s style grocer’s shop, complete with a traditional canopy, green aprons for the shopkeepers, drop lights and a warm, personalised welcome.”


With the task of rewiring, refurbishing and refitting the shop in hand, so began the work of finding suppliers. The store partnered with symbol group Nisa to provide ambient products for the store whilst also making contacts with local suppliers in the area.

“A chance conversation led me to one of the ladies in the village who makes her own cakes and honey. Another contact led me to a local pie maker who lost his job during Covid. His pies and scotch eggs are amazing – we offer everything from Big Mac pie to Fajita pie.
“I’ve had people from Manchester asking me to send them mail order! I have another home baker who makes me 300 tray bakes a week from millionaire’s shortbread to cookie dough.

“Obviously I still needed milk, sugar, sliced bread and other products, so I contacted my Nisa rep. I felt comfortable straight away with the Co-op name in the store. People come from far and wide, and we are more than well supported in the village,” says Julie-Ann.

Last year, Julie-Ann was nominated for The Scottish Grocer of the Year and won the Bread and Bakery and Unsung Hero award, and later that year picked up Scottish Community Retailer of the Year.

“I have had 30 years of high heels”, she quips. “I thought I’d miss the travelling and meeting new people. But running my shop is truly fulfilling. I’m still meeting new people, and I’m honestly, and truly, happier.”

I thought I’d miss the travelling and meeting new people. But running my shop is truly fulfilling. I’m honestly, and truly, happier.
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