Pontefract Premier: ‘Lovely family’ behind much-loved supermarket to retire after 40 years
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Surinder Pugal and his wife Rama opened their shop on Wakefield Road in 1985 – one of the first Asian families to set up a business in the town. Then known as Shamia Supermarket, named in memory of Surinder’s late father, the shop was originally an off licence and video library.
The shop quickly became one of the few supermarkets in the town and a favourite with many doctors and nurses boarding at the Hospital Student Towers, who were looking for south Asian ingredients and Bollywood films, which Surinder and Rama would often donate from their own collection.
Customers watched the couple’s three children, Rita, Karan and Alisha, grow up before supporting their parents to run the store around their full-time jobs in other industries. Now named Premier Pontefract, the shop has tripled in size since 1985, launched parcel services and supported the community through the pandemic.
Surinder, known as Steve to locals, and Rama announced their plans for retirement last week.
The couple said: “After nearly 40 years of serving the local community, through what was once a small store just a third of the size we have built it to be today, we have decided to hang up our price guns and call it a day.
“It’s a decision that hasn’t been taken [lightly] and one that has taken endless months of thinking. However due to health and age, we have made the decision to finally retire and leave the business in a place where it is at its best whilst we are still physically able to give it our best.
“This place hasn’t just been a business to us, it’s been our everything. Our home, our getaway, our way of life. We’ve lived it, loved it, and certainly breathed it. Each one of life’s emotions over the past 40 years, good and bad, we’ve experienced them all through the business and with our customers by our sides.
"We’ve given it our all the past 39 years, but not as much as our customers have given to us. It’s hard to say how much you’ve given, but when you put 39 years times by 365 days together, you get the idea of how big a role our customers have played in our life.
“We will deeply miss the many daily faces and characters that we have become accustomed to and those who we’ve seen generation by generation. Once again, thank you for giving us a lifetime of memories and giving us the honour to serve you for all these years.”
Surinder and Rama said they will support the shop’s new managers as they take over the business, but after working “365 days for nearly 40 years”, they are looking forward to their next chapter.
Messages have flooded in from the family’s loyal customers, as dozens wished them the best on Facebook.
Tim Ellis said: “You all are top people help everyone in anyways you can, so I hope you have a very good time enjoying your retirement.”
Sarah Docherty said: “Enjoy your retirement, such a lovely family.” While Becky Laycock added :”Aww, well deserved retirement but you will be missed.”