Awards Profile – Bread & Bakery Retailer of the Year

Bread & Bakery Retailer of the Year 2023 – Spar Market Crosshouse

Following a refit to the store in August 2022, Spar Market Crosshouse has won a slew of accolades, picking up a further gong at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2023.
Scottish Grocer caught up with store manager Kelly McCulloch following the store’s recent win.

Bread & Bakery Retailer of the Year – supported by Hovis

Interview with Kelly McCulloch, store manager
Symbol: Spar

Rising to meet the demands of category

BREAD and bakery can prove to be a challenging category to consider across convenience. With so many moving parts, the section can quickly become a complex one to stay on top of.

But it’s more than clear that the team at Spar Market Crosshouse knows exactly how to work the dough and provide a well-stocked section that offers a competitive range to keep consumers hungry for more.

As such, Scottish Grocer judges saw fit to name the store the Bread & Bakery Retailer of the Year at the Scottish Grocer Awards 2023.

Consumers entering this store are immediately welcomed by a hi-tech way to shop convenience, complete with self-scan tills offering a real point of difference and a range of lunch options, whether this be from the fresh sandwiches made every day in the store or some hot food-to-go options from the CJ’s range.

Providing some staple bread options as well as some more premium choices as well.

Promotional bins are also dotted across the store, helping to highlight the breadth of the range available for consumers across multiple aisles.

And it’s this wide variety that’s on offer that Kelly McCulloch, manager at Spar Market Crosshouse, reckons gives the store the edge when it comes to the bread & bakery category.

She said: “We aim to offer as much as we possibly can with our range. We look to support the local suppliers with Brownings the Bakers in store but we also keep in the standard options.

“We follow the CJ Lang planogram range, with two metres of cakes and two metres of bread, and then round from this section we also cover off more speciality items with part-baked rolls, from Hovis and Spar, long-life rolls and we have some Cakes by Rebecca and the Irving’s cakes range.”

An emphasis on local support is evident across Spar Market Crosshouse as well, as the Kilmarnock bakery firm Brownings can be found across the entire store.

Hot food to go options include the likes of Brownings pastry offerings and pies, with a range of cakes from the brand all available to buy at the till.

But undoubtedly the star of the show here has to be the dedicated Brownings table unit, which has been designed to look like a traditional baker’s cart and is loaded with sweet treats and goodies from the bakery firm.

The store’s tailor made bakery cart highlighted the breadth of the Brownings range.

McCulloch said: “Brownings is such a big seller in this store because our customers are looking for that local option and it has such a strong reputation in the area with the factory only about five minutes away.

“The brand has to be one of our biggest sellers, so we wanted to emphasise our support for local with Brownings.

“We’ve got the dedicated cart for Brownings in the store which not only highlights its range but also has some history about the brand, too, letting people learn a bit about the local history.

“Our merchandising is quite a big thing across the store so having this cart gives us a really good, eye-catching unit we can make use of in the store.

“And I think it’s this marketing we do in store that helps to give us an edge over other stores. Not only do we have the Brownings table but we make plenty of use of other display units across the store for promotional items, products that are new to the market or more seasonal.

“It helps to keep the range a lot more prominent right across the store and can help bring in some extra impulse sales.”

This relationship with local suppliers has been strong since the beginning for McCulloch as well, with tabled meetings between Brownings and the store, as well as representatives from CJ Lang early in the stages of the store’s refit.

McCulloch explained: “I came to the store about three months before the refit started and it was really tired and dated looking and did need a lot of work done to it.

The store boasts a wide selection of bread in its range, ensuring customer needs are met every time.

“We had an initial meeting with Brownings, who let us use their meeting room, and we went down their with CJ Lang to present and talk about what plans were in place for the store.

“It also allows us to work very closely with Brownings going forward, so if we’re ever running low on certain stock then Brownings always offers to help.”

This refit also played its part in making sure attracting people to the store isn’t a tough sell for McCulloch and her team, with an attractive, modern look, Spar Market Crosshouse offers the cutting edge in what you could find in the Scottish convenience market at the moment.

And now, more than a year from the refit, the store has retained its sleek look while providing consumers with a point of difference in range.

Evidently, this hard work is something that CJ Lang has picked up on, with Crosshouse as its flagship store and it is frequently the case that store owners from across convenience are brought to visit the shop when considering a change in symbol.

McCulloch said: “Quite often, we have people coming down to see the store when they are considering a change in symbol group and want to move to Spar.

“We do have quite a lot of visits to the store – with a lot of interest from people across the whole of convenience.”

Local bakery Brownings can be found dotted across the store, with its Famous Kilmarnock Pie ready to purchase hot from the counter.

Further to that, Crosshouse is one of the few Spar Market concept stores in Scotland, with the branding emphasising a focus on fresh options in the store, which McCulloch believes brings something extra to the table.

She said: “I definitely think that when people see that sign above the door, especially as more stores are added into this format, people will recognise that there is something unique to be found in the store.

“And that’s the difference with a Spar Market store, too, that we have a team that concentrates more on the fresh range, which is one of the big stipulations

to run a Spar Market store.

“It also has to be a certain size, carry a certain number of Scottish suppliers and have a good bread and fresh range so immediately customers know what they get from the store just by looking at the shop and seeing it is a Market concept.”

Going forward, McCulloch aims to maintain this strong performance across Scottish convenience, helping to provide her local customers with a point of difference and an attractive selection that many will find hard to resist.

McCulloch said: “We’re now more than a year on since the refit finished and we’ve seen a massive increase in our sales and it’s still building every week.

“So our goal for the next year is to keep doing just that and building on this, to continue providing our customers with a strong offering and making sure no one is left empty-handed.”

Spar Market Crosshouse offers its local customers something entirely new to the sector, building up excitement in the process.