It seems almost like magic…a store suddenly appears out of nowhere and we start trading, but behind the scenes, the Food Lover’s Market Development Team are the ones who create magic out of bricks and mortar. This is how it usually works…Mike Coppin and Gary Pienaar (Head of Development) look for potential trading sites or keep an eye on new malls coming up. They meet with the developers, negotiate rates, leasing amounts and what the landlord will retrofit the space with.

Andrew Strickland (Architectural Technologist) and Craig Nicholls (Architectural Draughtsman), who work on store design, layout and all documentation, start assessing the building. Will it work? As what…an eatery, a big or small store…what will work in this empty box?

They start a rough design of the store layout that covers everything – from the drainage, electrics, plumbing and ceilings, to the data lines, elevations, flooring, windows/doors, HVAC, sprinklers, lighting, and security, etc. There must also be a cost for everything. The plan and feasibility study are then sent to our business heads for input and feedback.

If one measurement or a couple of changes are made, it affects everything. The whole plan has to be redrawn and the pricing on everything has to be adjusted again. According to Andrew, “Plans change all the time and we can go from Revision A to Revision Z in no time; and each time a revision is done, the costings for everything must be revised. We have to meet with all the specialists to make sure that we have made allowances for their equipment. For example, the kitchen specialist…how wide is the oven, how many will be needed, are there extraction units for them, how large will these be, etc. There are just endless questions and endless information to gather; and then we need to update the plans again.

“When Food Lover’s Market The Reef opening in Germiston last year, we ended up on Revision 16, with 10-20 sets of working drawings.  All in all, we had created 127 plans”.

The Development team travels frequently to visit the sites, inspect progress being made and get costings. They also rely heavily on Ashley Burgess, Candidate Quantity Surveyor, and their Project Managers around the country, Arthur Woest, Rian Scheepers and George Borslap. “They are our eyes and ears on site. Different issues arise on every job, you just never know.

While we were creating the Hermanus store, we realised that we would have to remove and recast the entire floor to accommodate the services below the existing slab when trenching and laying down our own services. All because of previous precautions set in place prior to taking on the site. This then affected the heights of counters, doors, equipment, etc, which meant everything had to be remeasured and recosted.  A huge task,” says Angela Barnard, Procurement Manager.

Brian and Mike Coppin influence the design and layout of the stores and Lisa Currey from Hamiltons Advertising and her team are in charge of the look and feel that includes all the finishes – such as tiling, lighting, animatronics, interior design, etc – the details that make us Food Lover’s Market.

Before the store opens, the team has to go through it with a fine tooth comb and detail all the snags and equipment issues that need to be addressed. It takes approximately 12-18 months from the planning and negotiation phase to opening a store. “We opened 11 new stores in 2018 across South Africa and Africa and we have 50 to 60 stores planned for the next five years. Generally, we are working on approximately 10-20 stores at a time, all in different phases of development,” adds Andrew.

There are so many details and people involved in making a store happen. Angela is a crucial cog in the team’s wheel as she gets the pricing for and orders everything in a store. This includes items such as the fridges, ovens, measuring spoons, mixing bowls, till bags, PA system, toilet paper, trolleys, and baking tins…absolutely everything.

So how do they do it?  “We have a very good team who communicates very closely together. Gary holds us all together, he’s like our mother. And, of course, we have excellent supplier relationships that we can rely on when things go pear-shaped.  It is very important to us that we pay attention to the detail, work well with the greater FLM team and stick to our budget. It is definitely a stressful job but we all love what we do and we’re very proud every time a store opens,” adds Andrew.

Head Office Development Team (from left):  Gary Pienaar, Craig Nicholls, Angela Barnard, Andrew Strickland and Ashley Burgess