Retailer comes out of retirement age 75 to reopen Sunderland shop

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Retailer Ray Ali has come out of retirement to reopen the shop he last ran eight years ago after an approach by his daughter in law.

Ray, 75, started working in retail in 1964 at the age of 17 before opening his first store in Newcastle and then moving to Sunderland where he opened the shop in Villette Road, Hendon, in 1977.

He retired from the shop eight years ago.

But he was approached by Emma Frain about refurbishing and reopening the store and Ray has agreed to return back behind the counter to help mentor her.

Named Ray’s Convenience Store, the shop was opened on Christmas Eve by the Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Alison Smith.

Following the ceremony, Ray said: “It’s great to be back at the store in Hendon. Due to the cost of living situation, I’d been struggling to find tenants and this is when I was approached by Emma.

“I wasn’t looking to come out of retirement, but family comes first.”

Emma, 32, has invested £125,000 in the shop which has been completely refurbished and includes refrigeration containers around the store perimeter, a Costa Coffee vending service and will also now be selling National Lottery tickets.

She said: “It’s great that Ray will be here to mentor me as it’s the first time I’ve run a shop on my own. It’s really exciting to see the shop reopen today and I can’t wait until I get into the swing of things.

“The shop will employ six people and we are currently looking for three new employees.”

After cutting the ribbon for the official opening, Cllr Smith said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be here to open the store. They have done a terrific job on the store and it will be a great facility for people who live in Hendon.

“I’m extremely impressed with the layout of the shop and the range goods on offer. It’s fantastic to see this investment in retail in this part of the city.”

The first customer in the new shop was Hendon resident Louise Butters who was buying her morning paper.

Louise, 73, said: “What a difference this is compared to the old shop. I’m really impressed and looking forward to shopping here.”

Sunderland Echo

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