A throwaway remark to Morrisons’ chief executive lead to the £25 million deal that put Peterborough’s “secret millionaire” at the head of a new shopping venture.
Retail entrepreneur Mike Greene (50), of Crowland, is now leading the management team that has just acquired Morrisons’ 140 M Local convenience stores, employing 2,300 people between Edinburgh and Plymouth.
It was a passing comment that happened to fit an opportunity.Mike Greene
Mr Greene, who featured in Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire programme four years ago, said: “I was chatting to David Potts, the chief executive of Morrisons, during a visit to his two stores in Peterborough.
“I just said that I’d like to get my teeth into one more big role and if he wanted to focus on his core supermarkets I would love to be involved with the convenience side.
“It was a passing comment that happened to fit an opportunity - it fitted with David’s thought and strategy.
“That was in March/April this year and it led to the acquisition of the M Local convenience stores. It may only have been a few months ago but we’ve squeezed a year’s work in since then.”
Mr Greene was backed by the family investment company Greybull Capital LLP in the deal, which has seen M Local rebranded as My Local.
He said: “It was not a case of just sticking a Y on the name. We did a lot of research.
“I had looked at a different chain of convenience stores earlier and had thought about the name My Local. Communities are becoming more important to customers.”
For the immediate future the focus is on the business as it stands. Mr Greene said: “The stores we have acquired are fantastic ones.”
“I have already been offered stores by small groups and indivduals. We will look at them all as we are very open minded.
“But I will not be involved in some ego-chase and just go for big numbers for the sake of it.
Mr Greene said a life in retail was demanding and he would be working retail hours.
He said: “While I will have a small regional office in Peterborough my main office will be a Mercedes van as I get around all our stores.
“The convenience store lifestyle is 7am to 11pm and that will be my lifestyle too.”