A double-edged sword this week: one of the best stores I’ve seen in London lately but also one of the most difficult to find. I try and avoid being too London-centric as I realise that it might be a tad boring for those people that live elsewhere in the country / world and it also undermines the reality that there are many great stores outside of our glorious capital.

By the same token, it would be a bit unrealistic to ignore that a lot of interesting, significant and / or pretty stores are often within the M25. Despite this observation, this is only the second of 16 blogs so far that has focused on a store in London, and this nearly didn’t happen due to a combination of my stupidity; large-scale redevelopment outpacing the contemporaneousness of Google maps; and everything south of the river being confusing and upsetting.

The redevelopment of the iconic (I think my use of the word is justifiable for once) Battersea Power Station has not been without controversy – which I won’t go into here – but what cannot really be debated is that the area is shaping up to be a fine riverside environment once the dust has settled.

When the building is complete, the residents have moved in and the assorted businesses opening here start hitting their stride, then the redevelopment is likely to be deemed successful. There looks set to be a decent mix of commercial entities alongside residential, parks, leisure and offices, with the first to open being the lovely Battersea General Store.

Soon to be joined by more stores and (very nice looking) restaurants in the Circus West part of the development, the BGS is a thoroughly noteworthy entrant to the UK’s convenience retailing sector. With a look and feel that is more department store than corner shop (I gather there is an awful lot of marble and oak involved), BGS manages to cram in a lot into its 6,500 square feet – and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

The left-hand side of the thoroughly charming place is taken up with the store’s handsome produce offering and a coffee bar that sits alongside the store’s deli counter. Throughout the store, navigability is kept at a high standard thanks to the very striking illuminated signage that looks marvellous against the green tiling that runs across the top of many walls.

Overall, the look and feel of the place is very modern, yet at the same time it evokes designs of yesteryear. I would be more informative, but I know nothing about design or architecture. A view that regular readers would be quick to endorse.

The store is home to a genuinely impressive mix of global and local foods with many nods to local sourcing in categories such as produce and beer. The BWS range itself is astonishing for a store of this size – beautiful fixtures are home to a cracking array of booze that cover off most eventualities in terms of budget. The fixtures are not particularly noteworthy in this part of the store alone – all categories are housed in lovely, lovely shelves that really let the products shine.

The store – supplied by Nisa – manages to combine this beautiful environment with some keen pricing and some warm and engaging service. While the Battersea area might well continue to be awash with quinoa-laden Ocado delivery trucks, the Battersea General Store will be a bricks & mortar destination that will be a more than ample host for smaller basket sizes and different shopper missions.

This place is a very encouraging sign that there is a great deal of life left in independent retailing in the UK. Very good stuff indeed.

Bryan Roberts, Global Insight Director

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