Blakemore Trade Partners launches new retail strategy at SRS19

Blakemore Trade Partners announced a brand-new Store Cluster Strategy at its 2019 Spar Retail Show, aimed at helping retailers differentiate their stores for different locations and markets.

The conference and trade show took place on 1st October at the Telford International Centre in Shropshire and was attended by more than 1,100 guests, including colleagues, suppliers and retailers from across Spar UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.

Themed ‘Designed for Life’, the event focused on ways that independent retailers can boost their sales and profits in a competitive marketplace.

The new Store Cluster Strategy centres on designing stores to meet the lifestyle needs of the communities in which they operate, with a differentiated offer reflecting the core shopping missions of customers.

AF Blakemore group marketing director Sarah Ellis explained: “The customers who visit our stores are not all the same, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer an option for retailers who want to remain current and competitive.

“Our new strategy recognises both the consumer need and commercial opportunity for us to create a store estate that has the flexibility to respond to the needs of the audience it serves. We want our stores to be the most convenient places to shop.”

AF Blakemore has analysed more than 500 million transactions of SPAR shoppers to understand the core shopping missions and enable the business to segment its SPAR estate across five cluster types.

These clusters will determine the space, range, pricing and marketing promotional strategy for individual stores and will influence both strategic and operational developments.

Also announced at the conference was Blakemore Trade Partners’ new commercial proposition. Sales Director Louis Drake announced that AF Blakemore has set aside £2.3 million to co-invest in retailers’ businesses this financial year and that leasing options will now be available to all retailers. In addition, the business has launched a new overrider scheme offering retailers a quarterly rebate of up to 6%, as well as new mix-and-match terms.

Blakemore Trade Partners successfully delivered on last year’s SRS pledge to grow retailers’ cash margin by 1% every year, investing £1.5 million into achieving this.

AF Blakemore’s newly appointed food solutions & retail proposition director, Nikki Rogers, took to the stage to inspire delegates with AF Blakemore’s new focus on food innovation. The company has established a new Proposition team to transform food-for-now, food-for-later and meal solutions across its SPAR estate.

AF Blakemore group managing director (commercial) Jerry Marwood, meanwhile, spoke about the strength of the AF Blakemore group of companies and underlined its commitment to long-term sustainable growth. AF Blakemore has invested in a new distribution centre in Bedford to provide the business with additional supply-chain capacity, as well as new digital technology, including CRM, commercial and delivery tracking systems.

The conference featured key retailers from AF Blakemore’s award-winning Flagship Store Programme, demonstrating how strategic thinking based on consumer insight and market trends has driven sales and profit within their businesses. Delegates heard from Adam Marsh of Spar Evesham, Elfed Roberts of Spar Nefyn, Edward White of Spar Calver, David Charman of Spar Parkfoot, Conrad Davies of Spar Pwllheli and Rachael Hockmeyer of Spar Sleaford.

The sold-out event was Blakemore Trade Partners’ biggest yet, with more than 200 suppliers attending. The tradeshow floorplan was designed around the business’s five new clusters, with mock-up shops visually demonstrating how different stores can serve different shopping missions. An online app provided retailers with instant access to special deals on the day.

This year’s event also had a special focus on sustainability. Lunch plates and cutlery were made from recyclable bamboo material, and recycling facilities were available across the venue. Leftover food from the show was donated to the Dawley Christian Centre food bank in Telford.

A black-tie gala dinner closed the event, with an awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of Spar retailers and suppliers. Dinner entertainment included a comedy set from Russell Kane, and money was fundraised for par UK’s charity partner, Marie Curie, and the Blakemore Foundation.