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More than 500 delegates were joined by 45 suppliers at James Hall & Co. Ltd’s SPAR Transform retail event.

Held at the Harrogate Convention Centre, SPAR Transform was a radical overhaul and expansion of the company’s retail events consolidating business updates, a tradeshow and social activity into one action-packed day for the first time.

Tobias Wasmuht, Managing Director of SPAR International, was the keynote speaker of the morning session, and attendees heard from a succession of SPAR retailer case studies who highlighted transformed Food To Go, category expansion, sales performance, promotional activity, store development, and more.

In another first, James Hall & Co. Ltd’s G&E Murgatroyd company-owned stores division joined SPAR independent retailers to share best practice. These included improved in-store administration efficiencies through utilisation of platforms such as Zebra Reflexis and a focus on the success of Q-commerce in G&E with Deliveroo and Just Eat.

A spotlight was shone on SPAR own brand and having a greater presence of these products in store, with a new range of 24 SPAR International lines now available to SPAR North of England retailers. There was also a fresh product launch with Clayton Park Bakery individual cheesecakes and tiramisus available from this week.

During the afternoon exhibition, breakout sessions were hosted by Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Carlsberg, and Walkers, and a brand showcase included a SPAR Wine Bar hosted by Philippa Carr MW as well as a Cheeky Coffee Lounge.

Leftover stock from the event was gratefully received by Harrogate Foodbank and an action-packed day closed with an informal social evening of food and drink and Bingo Lingo.

Tobias Wasmuht said: “I was delighted to attend SPAR Transform and to engage with SPAR North of England retailers, many of whom have been long-standing advocates of SPAR.

“James Hall & Co. Ltd are deeply entrenched within the communities of Northern England and are founding members of the SPAR brand in the UK.

“SPAR North of England retailers enjoy the benefit of superb knowledge and expertise, world-class logistics, and industry-leading own production, and it was very pleasing to hear so many SPAR retailers are prospering in convenience which is a winning channel in the UK market.”

Peter Dodding, Sales Director of James Hall & Co. Ltd and Chairman of the SPAR Northern Guild said: “This year we completely revamped our retail event giving it a much larger platform. The feedback from everyone who attended has been outstanding, and enormous thanks go to our suppliers for generously supporting the event.

“It was fantastic to have Tobias Wasmuht join us for the occasion, and his presentation really drove home the value of being in the SPAR family with a global but local brand.

“With colleagues from our G&E Murgatroyd company-stores division and our valued independent retailers, it really was a celebration of SPAR, an opportunity to strengthen the brand by working better together and support the building of customer loyalty through the entire SPAR proposition.”

Transformed Food To Go
Mark Follen, SPAR Northern Guild member, has just converted his coffee brand to Cheeky Coffee at SPAR Brock and SPAR Forton forecourt sites in Lancashire and is reaping the benefits.

“It has been hugely successful, and customers have taken to both the brand and flavour. The number of coffee cups sold a week are now at levels previously unseen at our sites. The proposition is situated in one Food To Go location in-store which is much improved and the fact we can activate the Cheeky Coffee deal with either a cake or hot food makes it a winner.”

Transformed value and promotions
Samantha Bennet, independent retailer and owner of SPAR Barrow in Westmorland and Furness, says SPAR promotions have improved value for customers.

“I changed over my retail partner to SPAR two years ago, and it has transformed my business in so many ways. The value perception in-store is much improved, and customers are seeing new offers each week. The value package is further enhanced by the Price Locked package and multi-buy deals that are sought after so much by shoppers.”

Transformed categories
Rob Meekins, independent retailer and owner of SPAR Fleetwood in Lancashire has overhauled his offer following a transfer to SPAR 18 months ago.

“Daily deliveries of fresh products six days a week ensure that my range is as fresh as possible, and many items are available on a single pick enabling me to order exactly what I want. A 24-hour lead time from order to delivery means product availability is excellent and automatically generated ordering equates to a time saving for me of two weeks per year.”

Transformed site development
Paul Stone, multi-site retailer in Manchester and SPAR Northern Guild member, spent £250,000 refitting SPAR Oxford Road in 2022, modernising fixtures and fittings and refining his range.

“My Oxford Road store has traded 24/7 ever since we opened 30 years ago, and it has had five major refits in that time. You cannot stand still in retail – you must continuously reinvest otherwise your business is going backwards. We replaced every piece of equipment and made more of Grab and Go and Big Night In. Sales are up 19%, even with new competition across the road, and my energy costs have been reduced by 28%.”

James Hall & Co. Ltd is a fifth-generation family business which serves a network of independent SPAR retailers and company-owned SPAR stores across Northern England six days a week from its base at Bowland View in Preston.

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