Two leading lights of convenience retail are chosen by judges to take away the top awards
TWO influential and experienced retailers won the main pair of prizes at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2023.
Graham Watson, of Premier Watsons Grocers in the village of Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, was presented with the top gong for Industry Achievement.
And, just before that, Jay Javed, the boss of PGNJ Limited, which has a string of Nisa stores across the greater Glasgow area, received the Entrepreneur Award.
Accepting his award, Watson, a retailer with 22 years of experience, told of the highs and lows of his career in a moving speech that had the audience both laughing and in tears. He paid special tributes to both his wife and daughters and the store team.
He concluded: “Have we met the expectations I had when we started out? Probably not. I know that I’m not the same person I was when we began and that’s OK because what we have done, in our own small way, is to make a difference for the people of our community.
“Whether you’ve got one store or 100, what we do is all about the people that we serve and the communities that we live in and, hopefully, make a difference to.
“I would like to pay tribute to all my fellow retailers in the room tonight. You are the reason for this event and the reason that everyone is here.
“Only someone who does this job can ever truly understand just what it takes to run a grocer’s shop, convenience store or garage forecourt.
“We are like the Royal Marines of the convenience sector – first in and last out. It is not a job, more a way of life. We see the best and, sadly, the worst faces of society on a daily basis. But we do make a difference.
“Thank you to all at Scottish Grocer Magazine and award sponsor Republic Technologies UK. This means a lot to me and I’ll proudly take this back to our community and show it off.”
Earlier, unveiling the winner for Industry Achievement, Scottish Grocer editor Giles Blair said Watson was a positive voice for independent retailers – challenging legislation and speaking out on difficulties stores and their staff faced.
Blair also highlighted Watson’s mentoring work and sustainability credentials. He added: “Our winner carries out various acts of charity and aims to become even more pivotal in people’s lives by becoming a celebrant.
“And I feel this benefits the wider convenience sector because it represents the caring and thoughtful nature of many people who work across the industry.”
Revealing Javed as the person lifting the penultimate accolade – the Entrepreneur Award – host Elaine C Smith told how he had more than doubled his store estate despite the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis through innovative vision and investment.
She said: “This retailer makes sure that each shop is uniquely tailored to the needs of the community it serves. The shops have the finest standards of convenience layout, store development and overall consumer experience.
“With years of experience, the winner can offer incredible insight into category opportunities and the Scottish marketplace. An ability to analyse the channel, learn and predict consumer behaviour, and develop the business accordingly is unlike others.”
Afterwards, Javed, whose firm also won Symbol Store of the Year, thanked Scottish Grocer, industry colleagues present on the night and “everyone within our company and beyond for helping us achieve these prestigious awards”.