Brand with a Social Conscience – Interview with Ivan Calleja – Director

THE CONVENIENCE SHOP for the Puttinu Cares is also a way of keeping alive my wife’s memory, and that’s very important to me.

What prompted you to set up the first Convenience Shop 10 years ago?
One of the major reasons that encouraged me to start a business was seeing Malta’s great potential and fast- growing market, with a higher demand than ever before for outlets in villages that offered the local

and foreign shopper flexibility and convenience. As a food importer myself I had a good knowledge of the food industry on the island and believed there was
a big gap in the market for a fast and easy shopping experience especially when it came to fresh and convenient products.

Why did you take the decision to grow?

Every business has modest beginnings and starts slowly, in the same way that a 100km journey begins with a few steps. Today we are proud to say we have 70 outlets and will be opening more. Customer satisfaction, innovation, competition and stability
is what I would say the strongest motivators for growth together with a satisfied client-base that is continuously expanding.

What has made the Convenience Shop concept a success in your view?
Our success is really down to our hardworking employees and loyal customers. We ask ourselves every day how we can make our customers and employees happier. How can we serve their needs better? We are actively listening to the them and gathering important business information in order to improve our service and products. Feedback from customers and our workforce is critical to us. Also, an unsatisfied customer or employee is a great source of learning which is why we encourage, and act upon, feedback.

Do you have plans for further expansion?

Yes, most definitely. We are always moving forward and on the lookout for new opportunities. We already plan to open seven additional outlets in 2020; however, my dream is also to make the Convenience brand international and expand overseas.

One of the outlets is dedicated to raising money for Puttinu Cares. Why did you decide to take this step?
The tragic loss of my wife Sandra 12 years ago had a profound effect on me. For a long time I felt helpless but was always looking for an avenue that would enable me to make a contribution and turn my negative experience into a positive contribution to society. That’s why I took the decision to create something for a cause I truly care about and help people who are going through the trauma I myself had experienced. The Convenience shop for the Puttinu Cares is also a way of keeping alive my wife’s memory, and that’s very important to me.

What kind of support do families need when a loved one is seriously ill?
We share responsibility with families who have to take care of children who are ill. Emotional support is absolutely crucial in these situations, but so is

financial and practical assistance since they have
to spend time in the UK away from home which is unsettling as well as an expense. Families also need assistance with hospital visits, accommodation and the bare necessities that can make them feel more at home when they face difficult circumstances. This is why all the profits from our Shop for Puttinu Cares are donated to the organisation. We want families in need to know they are not alone.

What is special about Puttinu Cares in your view?

Puttinu Cares provides accommodation for the sick children, as well as adults, who have to go abroad for difficult treatment. It’s special because it not only helps patients, but also their families. This is very, very important because I firmly believe that a good support structure is a vital part of the treatment and convalescence process.

You have just won the Worker of the Year award. How did that make you feel?
I feel very honoured and grateful to have received this award, and of course am delighted that the State recognised the work I’ve been doing. However, at the same time I feel it places more responsibility on me to do more for the society, especially for vulnerable people, and that that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Do you think enough businesses in Malta are making a contribution to charitable causes?
We can never do enough. Need is always growing and we all need to do much more to raise awareness about the sick and vulnerable people around us.

I urge everyone in the business community to do whatever they can to factor in corporate donations and admire individuals from all walks of life who manage to make a contribution to charity. I am also grateful to my fellow directors in the Convenience group for their support and hard work. Together, we have built a strong brand with a social conscience and that makes me very proud.

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