Mentoring Winner 2012: Sanmugalingam Pirapakaran

Mr Sanmugalingam Pirapakaran of Mace (S&M) Supermarket in Victoria Dock, London, was announced as the winner of the 2012 Partners for Growth Mentoring Competition. Mr Pirapakaran wins £1,500 to invest in improvements for his store, plus the expert advice of the Retailer Advisory Panel. Read on to find out how the Panel have helped develop a plan to transform his business.

The news of the win couldn’t have come at a better time for Mr Pirapakaran (AKA Perry!), as he had been experiencing some very difficult business challenges, including rising crime, falling sales, pressures on margins, and to cap it all, the London Cross Rail works had effectively cut him off from a large number of his loyal customers. In fact, so challenging was the business environment, that Perry was really struggling to keep his business afloat and had at the end of 2011 “wanted to give it up”.

 £1,500 to spend on improving his store and was to receive the expert help and advice from the Retailer Advisory Panel, Perry commented “I couldn’t believe it when I was told I had won. To have a panel of expert retailers focus on my store and give me recommendations to improve my business has come as a huge help, just when I needed it most!”

Dean Holborn, member of the Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel, and this year’s lead mentor has enjoyed working closely with Mr Pirapakaran. Dean commented, “Despite being in a deprived area Perry’s store does good business, and has a lot of the fundamentals right. However the store still faces a number of significant business challenges, and we set about developing a business plan to help Perry turn these challenges into opportunities”.


Perry added, “the Panels recommendations were easy to understand and have provided me with a plan to improve my overall business. I’ve implemented nearly all the recommendations, which have included reducing my stock levels, lowering shelf heights, opening up my alcohol section, getting a new ice cream cabinet, introducing hot drinks and food to go, maximising my value lines and keeping a close focus on my business fundamentals. The panel also recommended I work with my local community to build loyalty, and so offset the impact of the London Crossrail works. They also introduced me to my local MP Stephen Timm’s, as they felt this would be helpful when dealing with the council and Crossrail. He has been really helpful already, as well as attending a local community event I ran. 

Dean Holborn added, ‘We have been delighted at Perry’s engagement in the project. He has been very transparent with the panel about his business data and challenges and, after presenting the recommendations he immediately set to work to really transform his store. However what pleases me most, is not the fact that his profits are up by over £4,000 a month despite the continued difficult trading, but to see the change in Perry himself, who is now upbeat and enjoying running his store again – it really has changed his life!”