At this year’s SPAR Retail Show, which had the theme ‘Better Together’, Blakemore Trade Partners highlighted ways that it is investing in independently-owned SPAR retailers to grow their businesses.
The event took place virtually and was attended by retailers from across SPAR UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild, as well as Blakemore employees and suppliers.
AF Blakemore’s group commercial managing director Jerry Marwood said: “If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that the SPAR model of independent businesses collaborating for mutual benefit works now more than ever. Being part of an organisation that protects your independence is vital for a vibrant retail community. We are truly stronger together.”
One of the key initiatives is the New Era stores programme, and the first store to be involved, Blakemore Retail’s Bala shop in North Wales, has delivered ‘exceptional results’ and is soon to be followed by several independent stores across the Meridian & Welsh Guild.
Blakemore Trade Partners will be working closely with retailers to develop their stores, providing tailored design, range, pricing and marketing support, as well as the finance to deliver the projects.
Delegates heard from award-winning retailer Conrad Davies on how co-investment from Blakemore’s enabled him to carry out a store development that has increased fresh food sales to 53% of his total and grown basket spend by 33%.
He said: “I knew where I wanted to go with my development journey, and between Blakemore’s, SPAR UK and SPAR International I was able to see, experience and touch all the things that would help me get there.
“I had the confidence to invest because I talked to people who’d made it work, who knew the pitfalls and who had the experience to help. There are very few businesses that offer the kind of support that Blakemore’s offered me, and they offer it to others too.”
At the SPAR Retail Show, delegates also heard that AF Blakemore has launched a practical support package for retailers to help them to comply with Natasha’s Law. It includes support with providing a compliant food-to-go range, production instructions, and hardware; help with training store staff; and a network of Blakemore employees who can help retailers maintain compliance after the initial introduction of the law.
Comprehensive support will also be available when the new HFSS legislation is introduced next October. Blakemore Retail is currently trialling new store layouts so that the business will be able to recommend the best course of action for retailers who will need to alter their layouts to comply with the regulations.
Blakemore Trade Partners’ commercial director Louis Drake underlined just how important partnership is to the company’s purpose: “It’s in our DNA. It’s in our culture. Behind all our customers there are people, families and communities, so to us it’s personal. Whilst economic conditions, customer behaviour and the environment may change, the way that we achieve our objectives and our commitment won’t.”
To secure the long-term future of retailers, this year has seen AF Blakemore open a new state-of-the-art distribution centre in Bedford.
AF Blakemore consists of the following divisions:
- Retail, which consists of 268 company-owned SPAR stores along with Philpotts prepared-food stores
- Trade Partners, which serves 685 independently-owned SPAR stores
- Wholesale Distribution, a complete food & drink purchasing and supply chain service provider
- Foodservice, which serves catering outlets nationwide
- Fresh Foods, a fresh meat wholesaler, distributor and importer
- Design & Shopfitting, AF Blakemore’s own shopfitting division