Supplier Zone Banner

SPAR Retail Show Inspires with Food for Thought

September 06, 2018


Independent retailers can thrive by staying at the forefront of innovation and capitalising on food-based shopping missions. 

That was the key message from 2018’s SPAR Retail Show, themed ‘Food for Thought’.

The sold out event, which is Blakemore Trade Partners’ annual celebration of all things SPAR, took place on Thursday September 6th across three halls at the Telford International Centre and was attended by more than 1,200 guests, including colleagues, suppliers and retailers from across SPAR UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.

The conference unveiled a series of inspirational new initiatives to provide retailers with ‘food for thought’ and equip them with tools to grow their sales and margins.

Blakemore Trade Partners Sales Director Neil Mercer explained: “We want long-term partnerships with our retailers, helping them to grow both sales and margin through strategic sales drivers that are based on consumer insight, market trends and innovative thinking designed to provide growth and margin opportunities.

“We continue to put a lot of work into researching shopping missions and how our formats can deliver against these missions. The way consumers shop is ever-changing and we are constantly responding and evolving to who they are and what they need, both now and in the future.”

New initiatives reported on included A.F. Blakemore’s ‘Tonight’s Tea’ concept, which was trialled across the company’s SPAR estate earlier in 2018, and also the relaunch of SPAR fresh produce.

Tonight’s Tea is a specially branded store fixture with a range of ready meals, prepared meat lines, sides and desserts. The choice of solutions aims to fulfil all aspects of the evening meal shopping mission, whether a shopper is looking to prepare a meal from scratch or pick up something ready to eat.

Meanwhile, SPAR produce has been relaunched to enable retailers to respond to increasing consumer interest in healthy eating. To help grow fresh sales, Regional Sales Director Stephen Gale announced fundamental changes in the packaging, pack sizes, quality and pricing of the fresh produce range, enabling retailers to build their sales without the challenges of high wastage.

Neil Mercer also introduced strategic plans to help retailers grow their margin year on year and save money.

He said: “It is our objective to create a platform that enables retailers to grow their margin by 1% every year. This is about us delivering a clear plan of retail solutions that if implemented brilliantly will create an environment to enable our retailers to deliver the target.”

The conference unveiled some of A.F. Blakemore’s latest flagship SPAR stores and demonstrated the importance of customer segmentation and basket and mission analysis in ensuring that all retailers have a SPAR format that delivers to the needs of their target audience.

Eighteen weeks into 2018/19, Blakemore Trade Partners has already committed to investing £1.2 million in retailers’ store development, aiming to match-fund retailers’ investments pound for pound.

A.F. Blakemore’s commitment to long-term sustainable growth was reinforced by A.F. Blakemore Joint Managing Director Jerry Marwood, who announced new investment in warehousing infrastructure and technology. The launch of a commercial system will put the business at the forefront of technological innovation in the UK convenience market.

The trade show was Blakemore Trade Partners’ biggest yet, with more than 200 suppliers exhibiting. SPAR retailers were able to use an online app to get instant access to special deals of the day.

A gala dinner closed the event in style, with an awards ceremony hosted by comedian Jason Manford celebrating the achievements of SPAR retailers and suppliers.

Delegates were also invited to take part in a luxury prize raffle draw, which raised a whopping £5,033, with donations being made to Marie Curie and the Blakemore Foundation.


The SPAR Retail Show conference and trade show

Back to news