Plunkett’s data manager, Paul Thompson shares his account of a recent visit by Osaka University’s, Professor Yasuyuki Komaki to Broughton Community Shop in Hampshire.

I don’t often get the chance to escape the office and visit community businesses on my own as I mainly work behind the scenes in the office or more aptly behind a screen. So, I was therefore very excited by the opportunity to be invited to visit Broughton community shop in Hampshire to meet Mike Hensman the group’s Treasurer and Professor Yasuyuki Komaki from the Osaka University of Economics who was visiting community shops around the UK as part of a research trip to look at how the success of community businesses in the UK could be replicated in Japan.

After a quick Kon’nichiwa​ (hello) we head from Mike who shared the journey the community has had been on from a temporary shop to what is now a thriving shop and café attached to the new village hall. It was amazing to see how the shop and café support and work with the village hall and the wider community with popular events such as a local art exhibition being a popular local event that massively helps to increase footfall in the shop.

Following being inspired by the story of the shop and seeing it going from strength to strength it was Yasuyuki’s turn to ask some questions. It was great to hear of the desire in Japan to have more community ownership of shops particularly in rural areas with a lot of the questions focused on the nuts and bolts of the process in starting a new community business. I surprised myself at how much I had picked up in my short time at Plunkett as I explained the processes and support that we offer to groups to get them off the ground and the ongoing support that is also offered. Whilst there are some differences particularly over asset ownership between the UK and Japan the desire by communities particularly in rural areas to manage shops for the benefit of their community remains.

I am looking forward to welcoming Yasuyuki back to the UK next year when he takes a year long sabbatical to fully immerse himself in community businesses in the UK and you never know in the future, there could be a “Plunkett: Japan” office.

Mike Hensman, Broughton Treasurer, Professor Yasuyuki Komaki and Plunkett's Paul Thompson

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