Convenience retailers gear up for future

Scottish Grocers’ Federation annual conference highlights opportunities

Scottish Grocers' Federation president Craig Brown addresses the conference. (Picture: Mike Wilkinson/
Scottish Grocers’ Federation president Craig Brown addresses the conference. (Picture: Mike Wilkinson/

HUNDREDS of retailers heard about a raft of ways to help future-proof their businesses at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) annual conference.

The two-day event at the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow, last month, covered a host of issues from sustainability and making best use of technology to food to go and health and wellbeing.

SGF president Craig Brown told delegates that the thriving convenience channel was part of the fabric of society and provided an excellent service to customers.

He said the SGF was modern, progressive and had its eyes on the future. He added: “Scotland’s independent retailers are at the cutting edge.”

During the business sessions, Cross Rental Services boss Graeme Nesbitt highlighted the benefits to retailers of renting new refrigeration, such as no up-front capital spend and more efficient, flexible formats.

David von Laskowski revealed how the Picadeli brand, not yet in the UK, used technology to create intelligent, connected, food-to-go salad bars that resulted in destination stores.

SGF vice-president and retailer Graham Watson, meanwhile, called on ScotGov to help shop owners do more for the environment.

Kristine Moore, of Henderson Technology, pointed out ways in which c-stores could use the latest tech solutions to stay competitive, including self-serve ordering kiosks for food to go and drive-thru EPOS integration.

Sophie Williams, of Broadway Premier, in Edinburgh, told how social media can raise the profile of a business for free. She urged suppliers to ditch traditional POS in favour of spending on social media for retailers.

And Nick Brackenbury highlighted his NearSt firm, which is getting people into stores through online searches for specific shopper missions.

Referring to the Scottish Local Shop Report 2023, SGF chief exec Pete Cheema said the Scottish convenience sector was making a unique contribution to the economy.

The report revealed there are now 5,171 c-stores in Scotland, resulting in more than 49,000 jobs, with colleagues working a combined 12.1million hours a week during the last year.