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Interview with Mohammad Ansari – MBE Holloway

Keeping the customers happy

The bustling North London area of Holloway Road is home to a recent retail transformation, as Mohammad Ansari and his business partner rebrand their computer repair shop into a new MBE centre.

The current business has been operating for 20 years and has grown steadily. “In the beginning we did a lot of advertising and leafleting but we soon started to develop a bit of a niche, because we specialised in laptops whereas, back then, most other stores mainly handled desktops and PCs,” explains Mohammad, who has worked on the repair side for 16 years. “Word spread; other traders used and recommended us, and the business grew.”

With the London Metropolitan University campus nearby, students were a key customer group. “They got to know about us because they walk past the store every day. It was easy for them to drop off their laptops for repair, and their ongoing custom made us think of other ways we could help them. That’s when we introduced printing, scanning and binding too.”

From there, when Mohammad and his business partner wanted to expand the business and make the most of the large premises they occupy, it was a natural step to look into an MBE franchise. “We didn’t just want to become a print shop – we’re offering a lot of that already. With MBE there is a whole package, which made it seem like an obvious progression. We’re looking forward to being able to offer more on the print side of things now; we have a lot of solicitors and architects locally and there aren’t many places they can go for A2 and A0 prints. Some of our postal and shipping services will appeal to international students, who want to send luggage or other items home and currently have to use the Post Office for that.”

Slotting into place

Rebranding is currently underway, and Mohammad hopes the store will open before Christmas. As manager, he has already undertaken his induction and training, with a spell in the busy Windsor store for some hands-on experience. “It was particularly interesting seeing how the post and shipping side of the business is run. It’s a lot to remember, but I know that once I’m doing it day in and day out, I’ll get the hang of it,” he says.

“Getting on board has been really quite straightforward – everything seemed to slot into place, even with the limitations of the current pandemic. We received both online and in-person training, which was very well executed. We will also have a business support person with us for the first week of trading, to help with setting up all the business processes.”

Asked if he plans to change anything as time goes on, Mohammad explains that he wants to tailor his services to the local customer base. “The area around us is very different from Windsor, so while I might keep things exactly the same there, I will do things slightly differently here. It’s important to work out what people want and need, and then you might decide to introduce something that would appeal to them. It’s all about keeping the customers happy.”

He has already spotted an opportunity to step in and offer some of the services that might be in short supply within nearby universities and colleges. “Their print rooms can get very busy, so we can offer to help out there,” he says. “Hopefully we can grow with this and spot new opportunities as and when they arise, too.”

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