Local Champion: Conrad Davies, SPAR UK

July 27, 2018 IN THE CATEGORY: Feature articles

Here we feature leading convenience retailer, Conrad Davies, a fifth-generation SPAR store owner whose family has been serving local residents since SPAR was first launched in the UK in 1957. We spoke to Conrad about his journey with SPAR and the success of his four-store-strong business.

How long have you been involved with SPAR?

All of my life. I’ve grown up in the business and am the fifth-generation store owner. Our family was one of the first to get involved with SPAR when the brand was launched in the UK in the mid-1950s.

After a short stint in the landscape gardening business following my degree, I joined the family business in Pwllheli and became the store owner in 1995. I now own and operate four SPAR stores – the original store in Pwllheli, two EUROSPAR Supermarkets in Dolgellau and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and a SPAR Express forecourt store at Glandon in Pwllheli. In total, I manage a team of 130 people across all four stores.

Our SPAR Supermarkets draw customers from all over the beautiful Llyn Peninsula in Northern Wales.

What are the key departments in your stores?

The fresh food departments are really key to my business but if I had to choose one that’s a real draw, it would have to be the butchery section.

We have a full butchery operation in Pwllheli that supplies all of my stores as well as local restaurants and catering outlets.

Apart from butchery, we offer a full supermarket range including fresh fish, freshly baked bread, fruit & veg and of course, a wide selection of freshly prepared meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What has been a highlight of your career to date?

The recent refit at Pwllheli has been the biggest development I’ve ever undertaken. It included a complete floor-to-ceiling refit, which was supported by Blakemore Design & Shopfitting.

The project was so extensive that we had to rent alternative premises while the store was remodeled but it was definitely the right thing to do. We’re building a stronger business as a result – helping us face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The new store format features freshly baked bread made from local dough, freshly prepared pizza, a cereal dispenser, lobster tank, orange juicing machine, meat-ageing cabinet, self-serve hot and cold Food-to-Go, and ready-made meals and smoothies prepared in-house. Shelves using coloured LED-lighting showcase premium spirits and a lockable cabinet displays premium wines.

The store stands out from the competition with our very own Davies Food brand, for which we work with over 70 local suppliers to showcase the best produce from around the Llyn Peninsula and across Wales.

The response from shoppers to SPAR Pwllheli’s new look has been extremely positive. Sales were up by nearly 10% in the opening week and our margin has grown by 2%.

Are there plans to open more SPAR stores? 

I have loads of plans. For now, however, I am mostly concerned with developing my other three stores to look and work like Pwllheli rather than adding new stores to the equation. Once we have a unified look and feel across all four stores, we’ll be in a great position to add to the store portfolio.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?

Fresh, fresh and fresh! Over 50% of the total revenue of our Pwllheli store is generated from fresh foods. We’ve created the Davies Food brand to reinforce our commitment to giving our customers the best quality fresh offerings. We passionately champion local Welsh food in our business and it really sets us apart from the multiples who pretend they’re locally focused but really aren’t. We offer cakes and cookies from a local Welsh producer who won the last series of the popular tv show, The Apprentice – they are truly fantastic!

What is the secret to your success?

Hard work and an unswerving commitment to excellent customer service, excellent fresh food and giving our customers something new and different every time they visit the store. We always try to meet the needs of each and every one of our customers – listening to what they want and delivering beyond their expectations.

How do you see the future for yourself? 

I would like to keep developing and improving. The retail industry is shifting quite dramatically in the UK so we really have to constantly be at our best to keep up. It’s a very exciting time for my business and I intend to find as many opportunities as I can and take as much advantage as I can of each one.

This story was first published in Issue 1 2018 of our quarterly magazine, Contact International.

To read more stories from this edition, follow this link.

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