The volunteer committee held a meeting to update villagers on the progress toward forming a community group and assessing the feasibility of the purchase and management of the Houghton village shop.
Four headline conclusions are clear from the work done by the business planning group so far;
o Our village has an exciting, once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a viable business which can be run as a Community shop and which can be developed in line with the Community’s needs and aspirations.
o We believe the plan to establish a community shop fits pretty much exactly with the Government and lending organisations criteria to support such ventures
o We believe the proposal will offer long term protection of a key element of village life and its community
o There are lots of excellent examples where communities similar to ours have bought village shops and are running them successfully.
o Our thanks again to David and Margaret for the full and open approach to sharing information
o D&M are offering the shop itself – the property, the fixtures and fittings as well as the goodwill, the freehold flat above the shop and the opportunity to take on the separate PO franchise subject to PO approvals
o The initial valuation for the assets and the business totals £750k, of which £675k is in the two freehold properties
o We believe £450k of this can be financed largely from community grants and loans, plus a small element from individual donations.
o The balance of £300k would be raised within the community as share subscriptions.
o Two key strengths of the investment plan are worth highlighting
· The high percentage of the £750k that would be secured in freehold property
· The inherently low financing costs as a result of funding the plan via non repayable community grants, and low cost, long term loans
Main elements of the business plan so far;
o The business forecast has been modelled on 5 years of trading history given to us and explained fully by D&M
o We have kept all income and expenditure headings largely the same which shows the business will make sufficient returns to support itself in the short term, with future profits providing funds for organic growth and development
o So far the income forecast has been modelled to reflect the benefit of lunchtime opening but nothing more at this stage
o Staffing levels have been kept the same with the addition of a full time manager’s salary
o No PO revenue has been included so far as this will be run by the Post Office as a separate business
o There is no reliance on volunteer staff
o The model currently assumes the freehold flat is acquired along with the shop so it could be offered as accommodation to the manager with an appropriate adjustment to the salary. Should the flat not be needed by the manager then there would be an opportunity to generate income viashort term lettings
Next actions for the business planning group;
o Commissioning an independent survey and valuation of the business
o Prepare a detailed business plan to secure funding and act as the launch template for the business – end of June
o Prepare the sale and purchase agreement
o Instruct lawyers to complete searches and conveyance documentation and any remaining due diligence
o Confirm availability of investors tax relief