Better Retailing Awards Winners 2013

Grand Slam Victory: Health Zone, Wimbledon

"Quite the best health store I have ever visited”. That is the accolade our Secret Shopper paid to Health Zone, Wimbledon, the overall winner. Denise Barrett talked to owner Mishal Qadri about his triumph.

When I spoke to our Secret Shopper about her generous 49/50 score for Health Zone, she said she would have allotted full marks - but thought it may be perceived as ‘going over the top’. Not surprisingly, owner Mishal Qadri is delighted with the marks he got. His words were, "we are very chuffed".

That modest statement encapsulates Mishal’s unique style. Health Zone is categorically Mishal. His design flair and nose for innovation is so core to the business that he changes the colour of the store’s Conran-like fascia when the mood takes him. Its various incarnations have been terra cotta and blue - and now is sparkling turquoise and silver.

First Impressions Count

Health Zone, like many a successful store, is ambiently lit, which sets the tone for the classic modern interior of varying kinds of wood. What really hits you is the space - seemingly acres of it. One of the first things you see on the ground floor is an ‘appointments and advice' desk. "I take great pride in my staff being qualified to deal with customers and clients," says Mishal. "We look upon the two elements - the store and the Health Zone Clinic - as one, and they work in synergy. "Most of our shop floor staff (nine in total) are qualified in nutrition and we have one lady who's in her final year of studying."

Comfort Zone

Mishal Qadri is big on interior design and presentation. Downstairs there’s the Health Zone Clinic, that every year or two gets updated. Currently, each room looks different, with its own colour and wallpaper designed to create individuality, warmth and relaxation. There are 19 qualified practitioners, ranging from acupuncture and hypnotherapy to reflexology and Thai yoga massage. "The beauty therapists use oils and creams from the store and our nutritional therapists and homeopaths use our supplements," says Mishal.

Standing Out

What is it about Health Zone that goes that extra mile? Well, it’s spacious - more a lifestyle emporium, really. Its layout is both immaculate yet ‘warm’ and there are plenty of non-invasive promos dotted around and a teeming catalogue of products and therapies, from the niche and esoteric to the reassuringly familiar. All this is supported by a wealth of educational material and seductive messages to try out the adjoining clinic and spa. There's a fragrant, evocative tang in the air, suitable for a store that carries everything from Dr Hauschka skin care to herbal hangover remedies! "Team spirit is vital to me," says Mishal. "We are quite a big store with many disciplines of natural and organic products. I encourage my staff to support one another - to be attentive intuitively to customers but not invade their space. I can honestly say that everyone who works at Heath Zone loves their job."

Our Mystery Shopper gives an example: "I was looking around and a gentleman could see I needed help, but had to leave for a meeting. He passed me on to a colleague who was incredibly helpful and glad to spend time with me. It turned out that she had just graduated the day before at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, and had recently moved from London to Sussex. 'No problem', she said, 'I enjoy working at Health Zone so much, I do the commute!' "

A final word from Mishal:

I'm so delighted to to win this fabulous award - and I'd really like to thank my team. I couldn't have done it without them!


Mishal's Top Tips for Retailers

  • Visit your competition and check them out
  • Choose the right people to work with you
  • Be prepared to learn and change
  • Never give up, even on the worst days
  • You've got to love what you do!

Read on to find out which stores were runners up in the Better Retailing Awards 2013...