We’re busy getting organised for the biggest night on the Scottish convenience retailing industry’s social calendar – the Scottish Grocer Awards 2016.
Thursday’s big event is the grand finale of a huge programme that has included judging visits to more than 100 shortlisted entrants by Scottish Grocer staff, awards sponsor representatives and independent experts, over several months, all across Scotland.
As in previous years standards have been high and competition close. In many categories the judges found it very difficult to choose the final nominees (below) and very difficult indeed to decide on the winners.
You can keep updated on all the award presentations on
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On Thursday we’ll find out who are the convenience retailing champs in 20 different awards, see the finalists below.
Dairy Award Managed Store
Müller Milk & Ingredients
Scotfresh, Denny The Scotfresh store in Denny serves a busy local community, including a nearby school, and knows the importance of stocking the correct products for its customers. It features an outstanding range and display of dairy snacks and on-the-go lunch items. The store really understands its market and how to maximise dairy and dairy-related sales.
Spar Boswell Park, Ayr A 24-hour store in the heart of Ayr, Spar Boswell Park is immaculate and has an excellent dairy display that takes full advantage of available space while adhering to carefully designed planograms. Reminders about dairy products are placed in several parts of the store, which helps increase sales of milk. The store has a great dairy range that includes on-the-go lines and take-home products.
Dairy Award Independent Store
Müller Milk & Ingredients
Maximising its dairy opportunities within the available shelf space, the Mintlaw Costcutter store features an excellent core range chosen to fit the needs of its clientele. It has a fantastic dairy display and promotes milk and dairy produce very well. Costcutter Mintlaw, Aberdeen
Day-Today, Wallyford, Edinburgh This modern 2000 sq ft store has an excellent dairy display prominently positioned facing the entrance. Deals are especially well-displayed and reminders to shoppers about its dairy range are placed throughout the store. Dual sites – at the front and back of the store – help ensure maximum dairy sales.
Bakery Retailer of the Year
Family Shopper, Blantyre Family Shopper is a local discount symbol store that carries quite closely defined product ranges. But Family Shopper, Blantyre has worked hard to include and display bread and bakery brands and pack sizes to suit all its customers, including many who are elderly. Merchandising of the store’s bread and bakery display areas is excellent, there’s a good balance of national and local products, and there’s great use of point of sale materials to highlight deals and to remind consumers to pick up bakery products.
Bread and bakery plays a prominent role in this large independent city store and the products stocked reflect the shop’s very diverse clientele, which includes many students as well as nearby workers and hospital visitors. There’s a full range of wrapped breads including healthier options and the store also highlights new products and many items in the growing sandwich alternatives sub-category. It also carries an extensive range of continental style bakery lines and features several free-from bakery lines. Nisa Extra, Perth Road, Dundee
Pinkie Farm Convenience Store, Musselburgh The Pinkie Farm store has bread and bakery at the heart of its fresh and chilled foods area. It includes a well-merchandised wrapped bread display where all the bases are covered. Efficient systems ensure availability, and effective use of point of sale and promotional materials maintain high consumer interest. Products from renowned craft baker Stephens are very well-merchandised. Bread and bakery is also crucial to the store’s substantial food to go operation.
Tobacco Accessories Retailer of the Year
Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd.
Day-Today, Alberta Place, East Kilbride The Alberta Place Day-Today has an excellent range of tobacco accessories products. The retailer has a well thought-out stocking policy and is very knowledgeable about rate of sale of his lines and about trends in the tobacco market. He anticipates increasing demand for RYO tobacco and accessories when new legislation bans cigarette packs of fewer than 20 sticks and expects to increase his own RYO and accessories range.
Family Shopper, Airbles Street, Motherwell Since rebranding, this Family Shopper outlet in Motherwell has gone from strength to strength. It features a wide range of tobacco accessories – including core products, local favourites and on-trend items – housed in a dedicated shelving unit. The store owner, who has worked in field sales, has impressive knowledge of the tobacco and accessories market, current trends and products that are up-and-coming. All of that helps ensure the team can confidently recommend purchases that suit customers’ needs.
Spar, Leven Street, Motherwell In 2015 this store launched what’s thought to be the first automated back-of-counter cigarette vending machine complete with advertising screens in Scotland. The equipment also helps the owner gather data and examine trends. The store stocks a full range of market-leading tobacco accessories including regionally and locally popular varieties. And the owner is already planning how his in-store approach to the category will develop when new legislation comes into play.
City Store of the Year
Barr Soft Drinks
This One Stop outlet, in a busy area of Glasgow, caters admirably for a very mixed and lively city clientele. There is a large student community in the area and to meet demand the store features excellent freshly made foods, everything from breakfast cereals and rolls to hot foods. Students and others make up their own breakfast or dinner platters. Products of all types are excellently laid out throughout the store and members of staff are very friendly and helpful. One Stop, George Street, Glasgow
Scotmid Pilrig, Edinburgh Scotmid Pilrig is a smart, city convenience store that caters for a knowledgeable urban clientele. It stocks an excellent range of foods, including many locally sourced fresh products, extensive ranges of chilled and frozen lines and an impressive selection of premium wines. Its award-winning range from The Breadwinner Bakery and its newly introduced Candy Crisp doughnuts collection provide treats that are hard to resist for young and old alike.
Spar Boswell Park, Ayr This town-centre convenience store in an area close to nightspots is open 24 hours a day and features a wide product range that caters for a very varied clientele. The store has an extensive soft drinks range as well as a newly introduced Costa Coffee machine. But it’s not all about night owls; the store has a great relationship with regular customers who go in to buy their morning rolls and papers and to catch up on all the chat with staff members.
Post Office Retailer of the Year
The Post Office
Best-One at Brownlies, Biggar Best-one at Brownlies Biggar faced an uphill battle to bring the Post Office to the store when the local PO branch closed. But once they succeeded, Bruce and Donna Morgan were determined to make their Post Office Local the best it could be, even constructing a bespoke counter. By bringing staff across from the old Post Office and increasing service availability by 250% they have conclusively won over locals and grown their own business.
Clippens Road Post Office, Linwood Clippens Road Post Office, Linwood prides itself on being the hub of the local community. Reckoning that customers could be better served, store owner Terry Feeney bought the area’s Post Office to bring the service under the roof of his Nisa store. With dedicated staff, a well-laid out counter and extended opening hours of 6am until 11pm, the Post Office has attracted a significant number of new customers to the store.
Whitburn Post Office and Costcutter, West Lothian For almost 30 years, Whitburn Post Office has been in the hands of Teresa Hill and her family who have shown that by changing with the times a small business can not only survive but also thrive. By converting into a combined Post Office and Costcutter convenience store it has remained competitive, while always keeping sight of the importance of Post Office services. The business continues to evolve with the Post Office by, for example, successfully promoting a range of financial services.
Collectables Retailer of the Year
Fleming Gifts Ltd, Clydebank Mr Ahmed displays his collectables products with great pride and highlights a wide range of stickers and starter packs throughout his store. There are excellent eye-catching laminated displays of collectables lines on the store windows. Mr Ahmed is very aware of what his customers want and works hard to keep ahead of demand by making sure the store is always stocked with current favourites, new lines and more.
Loch Lomond News, West Dunbartonshire This Loch Lomond Store has an excellent range of stickers and starter packs very strategically positioned in the shop. The team knows the collectables market very well and works hard to meet customer demand, even sourcing some collectables lines from abroad. Display boards are placed on the walkway outside and there are eye-catching displays on the windows and inside the shop – all designed to capture the attention of tourists and others.
McColl’s, The Avenue, Newton Mearns The McColl’s store in Newton Mearns has collectables products clearly on display throughout the store. Many children from the nearby school are card-swapping enthusiasts so demand for collectables is high. Tremendous thought has gone into deciding how collectables items and starter packs should be displayed and promoted in the store. All the displays are effective and striking.
Confectionery Retailer of the Year
Mars Chocolate UK
Day-Today Saltcoats, Hamilton Street, Saltcoats Judges were impressed to see that standards have been maintained at this Saltcoats high street store, which won Confectionery Retailer of the Year 2015. Confectionery is hugely important to the store and is treated with great care and enthusiasm. Merchandising of the display areas is excellent, particularly the main display and value sections. Point of sale materials are very readily utilised, and strategic placement of seasonal products is employed to make the most of the counter areas.
Spar, Logan’s Road, Motherwell A real community store with a Post Office and close links with the local school, Spar Logan’s Road has put a lot of thought into confectionery. The range is very effectively chosen and displayed – arranged both to be ‘easy to shop’ and to suit the preferences of the shop’s customers. Working closely with industry reps, the store team maintains an excellent main display that uses a wide range of eye-catching point of sale materials.
Spar, Market Street, Forfar A recent refurbishment has put confectionery at the very heart of this immaculate, family-run Spar store. It features excellent ranging of core confectionery products and uses double facings and category management techniques to full effect. Secondary sites are employed well throughout the shop – including at gondola ends and at the till point. The large display of bagged confectionery, clearly visible through the shop window, is especially impressive.
Best Soft Drinks Outlet of the Year
Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd
Clydebank Co-operative Kilbowie Keystore, Clydebank A collaboration between Clydebank Co-operative and JW Filshill, this Clydebank store’s excellent use of displays at points of interruption ensures customers are never far away from the opportunity to pick up a soft drink. In particular, the well-merchandised soft-drinks chiller impressively displays its range of instant-consumption soft drinks. Judges were also impressed by an impactful hot food and drink display and the potential that it offered to boost sales of soft drinks and other lines.
Day-Today, Wallyford, Edinburgh The Day-Today Elite in Wallyford, a store that prioritises serving its local community, stocks a soft drinks range that’s carefully tailored to its clientele and very well-presented. Judges were impressed by the commitment to service demonstrated by owner Mohammad Aslam and his staff and how that encourages repeat business and customer loyalty. It leads to strong sales in soft drinks and many other categories.
One Stop Blackburn, Lothian Stores, West Lothian It was one of the first fully refitted One Stop franchises to open in Scotland and the Blackburn store is slick in appearance and strong on merchandising. And the soft drinks category is a real high point. Judges were impressed by the store’s innovative use of EPOS data to reduce time spent on stock and ordering, freeing up management to spend more time ensuring high standards are maintained.
Licensed Retailer of the Year
Whyte & Mackay
Mitchells of Inverurie Stocking local produce underpins every aspect of this independent family-owned and run store in all categories, including drinks. The family knows its market inside out and stocks a range of beers, wines, spirits and ciders to cater for it. Locally produced whiskies, gins and craft beers dominate the range but there’s also a broad selection of big name brands across all categories. The store hosts regular tasting events by local drinks producers and suppliers.
Nisa Extra, Perth Road, Dundee As a store located in an area with a substantial student population, management has made it its business to keep abreast of drinks trends. There’s an impressive range of brands and pack sizes across all drinks categories, including a substantial range of craft beers. And the latest phase of a refit programme saw new chillers for beer, wine and cider installed last year. Sampling events are organised regularly and promotions include many that are tied in with local events.
Premier KK Stores, Kilwinning The licensed trade service at this Premier store in Kilwinning has been ramped up following a root and branch refurbishment of the shop last year. The refit enabled the store to double its range, and new fridges allow it to stock a much broader range of chilled beer, wine and cider across a variety of pack sizes. A robust and regular staff training programme is in place and the brothers who run the store tailor seasonal specials and other offers to the shop’s target market.
Responsible Retailer of the Year
Imperial Tobacco UK
Day-Today, Maryhill Full of energy and innovative ideas, the owner of Day-Today Maryhill is committed to creating a safe and supportive shopping environment for the local community. The store has taken a strong stand against drink-related anti-social behaviour and educates consumers on alcohol units and safe levels of consumption. Staff members are very well-trained on responsible retailing issues and proposed changes in legislation are communicated and discussed well in advance.
Premier Mo’s Convenience Store, Blantyre The family members running this business are energetic and passionate about their commitment to responsible retailing, and keen to educate their customers – that’s demonstrated by the information made available on safe levels of alcohol consumption. Training on youth access prevention is frequent and the retailer is pro-active in adopting new technology (for example age verification via fingerprint scanning). As a result Premier Mo’s has a justifiably prominent and respected place in the local community.
Premier, The Village Store, Drongan, Ayrshire A great community store, Premier the Village Store, Drongan enjoys an excellent relationship with its customers. Signs on the rules for purchase of age-restricted products are prominent and the retailer shows a high level of awareness of the regulations for the responsible retailing of alcohol and tobacco. There is a real commitment to the wellbeing of the local community demonstrated by the voluntary policies such as declining to sell energy drinks to children of primary school age.
Independent Retailer of the Year
Lifestyle Express, Newhouse Mini Market, Kilbirnie The husband and wife team who run this store really know their market. The shop opens early to suit the bus schedule for morning workers. It promotes regular deals through Facebook and by leafleting. It aims to serve current consumer needs and to anticipate future demand. The store carries exclusive products and has expanded its hot food range, which features daily freshly made items. It also sponsors the local football club and has regular interaction with local schools.
McLeish, Inverurie The owner of McLeish has a very positive attitude and despite a lot of local competition has made his store a popular drop-in venue in the centre of Inverurie. Always on the lookout for ways to improve sales, he analyses sales and marketing practices at the big multiples and adapts them to suit his local community and his store. Every staff member is trained to do every job in the store.
Pinkie Farm Convenience Store, Musselburgh This store has continued to evolve in the 18 months since it moved into purpose-built premises from a much smaller store nearby. The owner runs a regular programme of training for staff on subjects such as alcohol and tobacco retail laws and product knowledge. He has a thorough understanding of wholesale and retail aspects of the trade and uses it to ensure the store runs as efficiently as possible. Consumer interaction and feedback is very positively encouraged.
Beer Retailer of the Year
Best-One at Brownlies, Biggar A busy store with locals and tourists alike, Best-One at Brownlies puts a strong emphasis on craft beers, with new products being added to its extensive range every month. Husband and wife team Bruce and Donna Morgan take pride in their close relationships with brewers and suppliers, and make an effort to stock products not available in nearby stores, as well as the top mainstream brands.
Keystore, Broadloan, Renfrew With a supermarket at the end of the street, and several other convenience stores nearby, this busy neighbourhood store has significant competition for beer sales. But manager David Mitchell has assembled a beer range that covers all bases, with a wide selection of brands and pack sizes to ensure all tastes are catered for. The section is expertly presented and features a well-merchandised chiller, effective use of point of sale materials and, in the craft beer section, individual descriptions of each product.
Scotmid Pilrig, Edinburgh Located on the bustling thoroughfare of Leith Walk, this city store caters to a very diverse clientele. The beer selection reflects that, with an ambient section dedicated to beers from local breweries and a drinks chiller that includes everything from large-format sharing bottles and world beers to multipacks. Everything is clearly displayed and merchandised, and point of sale materials are used to flag up the various products and deals on offer very effectively.
Tobacco Retailer of the Year
Philip Morris Limited
G101, Murray Square, East Kilbride This busy G101 outlet is popular with local adult smokers, features a large well-organised gantry and has adapted very well to the introduction of the tobacco display ban. The store manager works hard with head office, following planograms and making stocking suggestions and maintaining request books to help meet local needs. Systems to ensure constant availability are strong and the shop is committed to understanding its market and ensuring staff members are fully trained on tobacco-retailing law.
Premier Mo’s Convenience Store, Blantyre Tobacco plays an important role in this award-winning local c-store. The owners work very hard to understand local adult smokers’ preferences and then range accordingly across cigarettes and RYO tobacco. Gantry stock is checked and filled at least three times daily and stock is bought frequently to ensure availability is strong. Mo’s is deeply committed to responsible retailing, has adapted well to the tobacco display ban and is already developing its response to forthcoming changes in tobacco retailing rules.
Pricekracker Premier, Alyth Once again, at the third store in the Pricekracker chain, the owner is proud to stock not just all the main brands of cigarettes and tobacco but several other products requested by customers. Buying direct for three stores ensures there is excellent back-up stock and the Alyth store is committed to maintaining availability. Knowledge and application of all tobacco regulations is excellent and the owners are well aware of the changes that will begin to be felt later this year and are planning ahead.
Chilled Retailer of the Year
Kerryfresh, Scotty Brand, McIntosh of Strathmore
McCaugheys Londis Inveraray, Argyll Since the owner acquired the business in May 2014 and embarked on a refit and re-ranging exercise the chilled section in this store has thrived – seeing 21% sales growth in two years. With three to five chilled deliveries each week, chilled product availability is impressively high. The introduction of local produce has created a point of difference for the store and keeps customers coming back for more. Range is constantly reviewed and an exciting promotional programme also helps maintain consumer interest.
McLeish, Inverurie McLeish has achieved sales growth of chilled foods over several years. It has a very successfully balanced range that includes best-selling big brands, healthier products and local handmade items. Products that suit breakfast, lunch and evening use are positioned in the main chilled foods area, and in food-to-go and impulse areas. There is also great use of point of sale materials promoting offers that change through the day.
Wilderhaugh Service Station, Galashiels Spar Wilderhaugh is a petrol filling station with an impressive chilled foods section. This store is a fine example of how to make the best use of limited space – three bays to be exact. Keeping up with trends and ensuring the fixture is well-stocked, the store offers everything customers could require – from items for dinner to an extensive selection of food-to-go items for passing trade. Promotions change regularly and seasonal offers ensure an enticing selection all year around.
Symbol Store of the Year
(single store business)
Sponsor: Britvic Soft Drinks
Cranhill Convenience Store, Glasgow An impressively refitted large Premier store in a Glasgow housing scheme, this outlet is an excellent example of a business working with its symbol group and the Post Office to achieve and maintain very high standards, while also working to be totally responsive to its local market. Merchandising is first class. The chilled and fresh foods range is excellent, as is the shop’s very extensive Polish food and drinks range. The store also engages closely with the local community.
Pinkie Farm Convenience Store, Musselburgh Pinkie Farm is a new-build Nisa fascia store that works closely with the symbol operation and has also worked hard to build a strong individual identity. It has particular strengths in fresh produce and chilled foods, local produce and craft bakery lines, food to go, drinks, and pet food. The owner spent many years in the wholesale industry before taking the plunge in his own retail outlet, with the backing of experienced investors, and his experience and enthusiasm is evident in every aspect of the business.
Symbol Store of the Year
(more than one store business)
Sponsor: Britvic Soft Drinks
Pricekracker Premier, Alyth What a year it has been for the new Pricekracker Premier store in Alyth. It suffered a devastating flood from which team members had to be rescued. But with help from the local community, its symbol group and suppliers, it was back up and running in just seven weeks. Members of the former store team work in the shop, which has helped maintain local relationships. The store makes great use of deals to build its reputation for value.
Spar Thornliebank, Glasgow This city suburban, CJ Lang-owned Spar is an excellent example of how to marry group strengths in merchandising, planning and technology with understanding of the local market and excellent in-store team building. Staff members work hard to provide an excellent shopping environment and are very aware of the necessity to use promotions well, in what is an extremely competitive shopping district. It works with local schools and organisations and is especially strong on staff training and communication.
Family Shopper, Blantyre An uncluttered layout means that as soon as shoppers enter this store they can easily identify the section they are looking for. Effectively used point of sale materials make it easy to see prices and to understand all offers. Large, clear signs at the freezers guide the eye across the store and the shop’s busy non-foods section is also very well-merchandised. This store offers an easy, comfortable shopping experience.
Pricekracker Premier, Alyth The layout and use of displays make Pricekracker Alyth a pleasant store to shop in. Situated in a holiday area, the store’s customers include year-round local regulars and seasonal tourists. There’s a carefully balanced range designed to serve both markets. The staff have thorough knowledge of both groups’ needs and clever use of signs helps guide each group towards items on their lists.
Spar Thornliebank, Glasgow The store’s busy city suburban location means it has a varied clientele. Its product range reflects that, but every item is easy to locate. Clear signage throughout the store makes it easy to see where everything is and to know how much each item costs. The store is well laid out with a natural flow through the most-shopped items and categories. And point of sale materials are very well used to publicise new lines, deals and offers.
Employee of the Year
British American Tobacco
Katherine MacDonald, Polbeth Spar, West Lothian Katherine’s welcoming smile and efficient manner have attracted positive online feedback. She knows many of the regulars by name and is very proud of the shop. She often makes suggestions on new lines to stock, both in response to customer requests and as a result of observing activity in bigger stores. Katherine is an enthusiastic learner, always keen to take on more responsibility and keen to take up training opportunities that are available.
Gillian McDonald, Nisa Local, Springburn Shopping Centre, Glasgow Gillian is a dedicated team-player who has a good rapport with customers and staff alike at this Nisa store in the heart of Springburn. She has a real pride in the shop and sees it as an important part of the community. She doesn’t only serve customers with the goods and groceries they want but also provides a listening ear and a comforting smile, especially to some of the more vulnerable locals.
Mandy Strachan, Family Shopper, Blantyre Mandy thrives on responsibility and likes putting her ideas into action in the store. She often takes telephone orders from elderly regular customers and delivers their shopping to their homes. She has taken a number of training courses in her own time and says her favourite part of the job is training other members of staff. Mandy deals with all sales reps at the store and also allocates store sections to staff members.
Store Manager of the Year
Sponsor: Millions (Golden Casket Group)
Lorraine McKellar, Dalmuir Co-operative Keystore Lorraine has been a store manager for the Clydebank Co-operative Society for 18 years. She has created a well-presented, spacious store with a very welcoming environment. Her stock control and merchandising knowledge is expansive and she clearly knows the industry inside out. Lorraine has excellent communication skills and is a very enthusiastic and friendly individual who colleagues can rely on. Judges could tell that she is liked and appreciated by colleagues and customers.
Tracy McNeil , Clydebank Co-operative Kilbowie Keystore Tracy is an extremely enthusiastic employee with great knowledge of the industry. She has 11 years’ experience with Clydebank Co-operative Society and her enthusiasm and charisma helped ensure she was made duty manager at the Clydebank store. The judges were very impressed by her commitment to fundraising and being involved in the local community, which has included ‘Pink Day’ activity, raising money for breast cancer charities, and donating to local food banks. She is a motivated and well-organised store manager.
Robert Rajczak, Scotmid Warrender Park, Edinburgh Robert has recently taken over managerial responsibility for this store after having displayed an excellent record previously. He has top-notch people management skills, maintaining customer relationships and getting involved in the local community are obviously important to him, and he has great ambitions for the future. His commitment to the development of his colleagues is obvious. Robert’s passion and enthusiasm for the role came through clearly to the judges when they visited and they expect him to go far.