Blakemore announces initiatives to support independent SPAR retailers

The 2023 SPAR Retail Show, hosted by Blakemore Trade Partners (BTP), focused on the theme of ‘Sustainable Growth’, and one retailer received a £100,000 investment fund to develop his business.

Held at Telford International Centre, the event brought together 1,300 retailers, suppliers and industry guests for a trade show, conference and awards. The trade show featured 220 suppliers and offered retailers an opportunity to explore what’s popular and upcoming in the market and to connect with numerous brands across various categories.

The conference provided a platform for the BTP team to outline their plans for the upcoming year, with a key emphasis on supporting retailers to grow profitable and sustainable businesses. Louis Drake, commercial director, said: “Convenience continues to experience formidable growth, offering opportunities for all our partners. Our focus is on providing the right proposition for our customers, differentiating ourselves from the competition and delivering outstanding results.”

Matt Teague, managing director of Blakemore Retail, told delegates that the company recently conducted a time-and-motion study across 12 stores of different shapes and sizes, monitoring more than 2,000 tasks over six weeks. “We found that we spend 30% more time on administration than any of our major competitors. 25% of the manager’s time was spent in the back office, not facing our customers, and 23% of all colleague time was spent placing orders.”

Matt Teague: “We have a whole dossier of process improvements.’

In response, Blakemore Retail is going to automate tasks such as distribution of shelf-edge labels “so that it gives colleagues more time in customer-facing opportunities – better customer service, better replenishment, better freshness – all of those things that really matter to grow profitability,” said Teague. Automating tasks will also deliver savings, he added, such as around £8 per week of labour by using electronic shelf-edge labels and 38 hours per week by operating self check-out.

“We have a whole dossier of process improvements,” he told the audience. “Let Blakemore Retail do all the heavy lifting for you.”

Blakemore Trade Partners’ sales director Bev Bailey spoke about the Stock and Sell (SAS) initiative, which was introduced last year. Retailers were asked to implement promotional activity and introduce a core range of products in return for £10,000 worth of free stock. “Members of the Stock and Sell scheme improved compliance in store and saw a promotional uplift in sales of 44%,” she reported. “These retailers saw their cash profit improve by an extra £7,800 year on year versus non Stock and Sell stores.”

Bev Bailey: ‘We have created an opportunity for retailers to invest in their stores in an affordable way.’

Bailey announced that the free stock will be worth £15,000 this year to Stock and Sell members and that the SAS initiative will be extended to smaller and on-the-go cluster stores, who will have access to £10,000 worth of free stock.

Bailey stated that retailers who went through the refit programme last year saw an average sales increase of 12%. “However, we recognise that not all stores can do this and some of you just need a bit of sparkle in your stores. So we have created an opportunity where you can invest in your stores in an affordable way,” she told the retailers in the audience. “This year you can invest up to £15,000 in your store. If you wish to spend even more, you can have access to £150,000 using your future rebates for expanding your business, buying another store or reinvesting in a refit – and the good news is that it is all interest-free loans.”

Other speakers at the conference included group marketing director Sarah Ellis, who underscored the importance of social media in today’s convenience sector, and newly-appointed CEO Carol Welch, who took the stage to highlight the Blakemore Way, which connects people and partnerships to “create unique, trusted relationships where real people take an interest in all aspects of retailers’ businesses”.

In addition, David Cooke, group commercial director at AF Blakemore, focused on category growth and the significance of investing in fresh produce. He highlighted SPAR’s ‘exceptional performance’ in the total convenience market, particularly in fresh, chilled and teatime categories.

Blakemore Trade Partners serves 690 independently-owned SPAR stores, and Blakemore Retail consists of 262 company-owned SPAR stores.

The SRS2023 award winners were:

Retailer awards

Sat Deo (centre) receives the Big Investment Award.

£100,000 Big Investment Award: Sat Deo of SPAR Wath upon Dearne. The judges admired his ability to stay ahead of the curve, look out for new trends and find ways to better serve his customers.

Top Retailer Prize – The Baldwin Cup: Elfed Roberts, owner of the Siop Madryn Cyf in North Wales, for Elfed’s progressive approach to retailing across his four stores, central warehouse and production hub.

The Raj Aggarwal Community Engagement Award: SPAR Fishtoft

Best Store Team: SPAR Lindford

Best Business Initiative: SPAR Great Bookham

Supplier awards

Best Impulse Supplier: Coca-Cola GB

Best Use of Data: Nestlé Confectionery

Best Licensed Supplier: Heineken

Best Grocery Supplier: Fuel10K

Best Fresh/Frozen Supplier: Hovis


Published Date: June 20, 2023
Category: Wholesale Industry News