East Cambs business couple acquire 110 convenience stores stretching from Bristol to Sunderland with annual turnover of £75 million

Jonathan James

Jonathan James - Credit: Archant

Husband and wife business partners Jonathan and Rebecca James have acquired a 110 strong chain of convenience stores stretching from Bristol to Sunderland with an annual turnover of £75 million.

Mr James, who recently announced a joint venture with BP for an out of town petrol station and M&S outlet at Soham, says he and his wife acquired 33 stores a year ago and have topped it up with the acquisition of a further 77 stores.

Last year the East Cambridgeshire couple bought GT News estate in Yorkshire and Derbyshire and have added to it with the acquisition of First Stop News, better known as Rippleglen.

He and his wife set up James Convenience Retail (JCR) and the expansion will see them become the second largest home deliverers of newspapers in the country.

“It’s true we’ve grown quickly – from nothing to 110 stores in just over a year,” he said.

“But the opportunity was there and we are excited by Rippleglen and its potential.”

Mr James said they were confident of future prospects and he had a good management team in place to help run the expanding business.

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The purchase of GT News had gone exceptionally well and the shops were delivering good growth, he said.

Concentrating on home delivery of newspapers and magazines is, he believes, still a viable and expanding market and although some felt it might be in a decline there were still plenty of opportunities.

In an interview with Convenience Store magazine he said: “I’m still an independent retailer. Whether it’s one store or 111 it’s still me and the wife that owns the business and any progressive retailer would want more than one shop.

“When you get to this kind of scale you need some kind of corporate structure for sure but I’m still an entrepreneur. If I can see an opportunity I grab it.”

Two years ago Mr James sold his Soham supermarket to Asda and has leased out petrol stations in the area. At one stage he took a short break but felt last year was the right time to begin a series of acquisitions.

He is a former chairman of the Association of Convenience Stores and earlier this year joined the lobby against Government plans to extend Sunday opening for larger supermarkets.