Blakemore Trade Partners (BTP), the wholesaler that looks after independent and company-owned Spar stores in central England and Wales, as well as parts of London and the South-East, has had its “busiest summer for some time”, managing director Jerry Marwood (pictured above) told retailers at the group’s annual show last week.
Ninety-seven independent retailers joined the group in the last financial year, with a further 38 signing up during the current year, Marwood revealed.
On the back of this growth, the group is to invest £4m in IT infrastructure to “revolutionise” the way that technology serves the business, £1.6m in price reductions and unique deals, as well as £2m during the financial year on co-investment projects with retailers wishing to develop their stores.
This year’s focus is on incremental gains, explained Marwood, through an ongoing exercise of “process improvement”.
“With the UK retail environment becoming increasingly demanding, generating new customers is a challenge for retailers across the sector. However, a huge opportunity exists with the millions of customers who come into our stores every week,” he said.
“We have been inspecting everything we do to make it work, and to identify small incremental improvements that will add up to one significant improvement for our stores when added together.”
To ensure these incremental improvements are made, the group has launched a new Retail Excellence programme, which will be delivered via its established Guild Academy training function.
Under the scheme, a new Retail Excellence team (led by Dave Hammond, a former Spar store manager) will share best practice across the estate and provide additional support to drive basket spend through detailed guides and checklists for key sales opportunities such as Halloween. Best practice will be shared via a web portal, which hosts ‘how to’ videos and enables retailers in different stores to chat to each other.
Marwood said an early success for the Retail Excellence programme was delivered through BTP’s new lunchtime meal deal, where retailer input enabled the group to create a rationalised product range with a new price point, leading to a 20% increase in sales and a minimum 22% increase in profit.
The BTP show was attended by a record 1,000 guests (including more than 400 retailers and 190 exhibitors) – for more stories from the event, read the October issue of Wholesale News – out next week!