Spar Retail Show looks ahead to new opportunities

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Blakemore Trade Partners has all of the industry-leading initiatives retailers need to thrive and make the most of new opportunities in the convenience market.

That was the key message at this year’s Spar Retail Show, themed New Opportunities.

The event, free to all Blakemore Trade Partners retailers, took place virtually on 3 November and was attended by 1,000 guests, including suppliers, colleagues and retailers from across Spar UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.

The conference explored the new opportunities that have been presented to Spar retailers this year and how they can continue to react to the needs of local communities and customers with the help of initiatives from AF Blakemore.

The main message from AFB group commercial managing director Jerry Marwood to retailers was one of continuous investment and backing from AF Blakemore.

He explained: “It is important that we keep building our businesses to support you, and you keep building your businesses to give customers what they want.

“Next year is going to be as competitive as ever. Customers will want better value, better choice and better quality. They’ll want it delivered in a way that corporate businesses just can’t replicate, and that is our opportunity.

“Our investment statement is unique in the industry. Blakemore’s invests over 95% of its profits every year back into the organisation; it’s a commitment that our business is investing in yours.”

Speakers at the event informed delegates of the company’s latest innovation in food to go, fresh meat and digital initiatives.

In October, AF Blakemore relaunched its Daily Deli food-to-go range for Spar customers, rolling out tasty new products for breakfast, lunch, tea and snacking. Significant investment has been made in developing healthy, vegan and vegetarian options as well as exciting flavours that capitalise on current food trends and new cuisine types.

The company has also revolutionised its meat category with the rollout of its County Bridge range to independent Spar retailers. The County Bridge brand, which offers customers high-quality value-for-money fresh meat, has seen meat sales increase by more than 300% in the most successful stores.

AF Blakemore continues to evolve its digital offer at a consumer and business-to-business level.

This year has seen the business embark on a successful new partnership with online home delivery platform Snappy Shopper. Marketing campaigns with advertising platform Cardlytics and navigational app Waze are engaging millions of customers with the Spar brand online. 

Meanwhile, a new online ordering website and app are currently being developed for Spar retailers that will provide an industry-leading ordering platform.

Brand new for the business in 2020 was the launch of a new commission operator Spar store model. The model provides a low-investment route into Spar for new retailers and enables them to share risk and reward with AF Blakemore, who will develop their sites for them.

BTP sales director Louis Drake reminded retailers of the new terms package that launched at last year’s Spar Retail Show, providing significantly higher overrider payments that they can take in advance to develop their stores or use in combination with other financing from the business. This, he explained, means that AF Blakemore delivers “the most flexible retail support package available within the marketplace”.

Spar UK Managing Director, Louise Hoste, underlined the strength of the Spar symbol group, saying UK wholesale distributor sales grew by 3.39% to 30 April 2020.

Presenters at the event included AFB chairman Peter Blakemore, AFB group commercial managing director Jerry Marwood, Spar UK managing director Louise Hoste, BTP sales director Louis Drake, Blakemore Retail managing director Matt Teague, AFB Food Solutions & Retail proposition director Nikki Rogers, AFB group marketing director Sarah Ellis and Spar retailers Tom Dant and Giles Morrell.

The virtual tradeshow enabled retailers to engage with hundreds of suppliers and take advantage of must-stock deals of the day.