SPAR UK retail show spotlights novel opportunities to excel in growing convenience market

November 4, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: Digital and Marketing

  • A.F. Blakemore Group Commercial Managing Director Jerry Marwood

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Evolving consumer demands for better value, better choice, and better quality are presenting convenience retailers with a fresh opportunity to improve their offering and continue serving their communities. At this year’s SPAR Retail Show, themed New Opportunities, SPAR UK partner Blakemore Trade Partners showed it has all the industry-leading initiatives needed to excel in the UK’s convenience market.

The event took place virtually on 3 November and was attended by 1,000 guests, including suppliers, colleagues, and retailers from across the SPAR operator’s network.

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

Speakers at the event informed delegates of the company’s latest innovations in food to go, fresh, and digital initiatives. The virtual tradeshow enabled retailers to engage with hundreds of suppliers and take advantage of must-stock deals of the day.

Presenters at the event included SPAR UK Managing Director Louise Hoste, who underlined the strength of SPAR, saying UK wholesale distributor sales grew by 3.39% to 30 April 2020.

Unique investment statement
The main message from Group Commercial Managing Director Jerry Marwood to retailers was one of continuous investment and backing from A.F. Blakemore.

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

Meeting consumer demands with exciting new cuisine types
In October, A.F. 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 SPAR UK partner continues to evolve its digital offer at a consumer and business-to-business level.  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.

Growing opportunities for convenience and proximity retailing
Proximity retailing, a strength of SPAR, has been the industry’s recent standout performer, with compound category growth of over 5% even before the COVID-19 pandemic. A growing preference for community and proximity retailing is providing a substantial boost for convenience grocery.

In many areas, lockdown measures have also led to a rise in planned top-up shopping, with shoppers turning to convenience stores for both main and planned top-up shopping trips. SPAR stores are integrated into the communities they serve and, during the pandemic, played a much broader role as local community hubs, building positive trust and loyalty in the brand and our offer.

Source: SPAR UK

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The UK became a member of SPAR in 1956 when a group of independent wholesalers was granted the SPAR licence by SPAR International. There are five regional partners in the UK with strategically placed Distribution Centres in each region. A central office, located in London, provides national marketing and buying services for the group and supports the development of the brand.

SPAR has led the convenience market in the UK for many years but has faced increasing competition. Always innovative, the five regional partners have continued to grow the brand. Throughout the UK, a combination of independently-owned licensed retailers and company-owned stores can be found, spanning forecourts, airports, train stations, city centres, and local neighbourhoods.