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The Convenience Awards have taken place for 2020, and like everything in the retail industry over the past challenging months, they looked a little different this year.

Two local SPAR stores took home awards from the event which were held digitally but that format did not take away from the importance of honouring the frontline convenience retail stores and workers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic.

SPAR Loughbrickland in County Down took home the Excellence in Technology award, while SPAR Titanic, Belfast was awarded with the Food to Go Retailer of the Year Award.

Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group said the entire industry should feel proud and recognised this year; “as ever, the Convenience Awards honoured the best in our industry, but every store’s team which operated during the challenge of the lockdown should feel honoured and recognised as they did an outstanding job in keeping their communities going.

“Huge congratulations go to our local retailers who picked up awards and beat national competition from across the UK.”

Local retailers dominated the Excellence in Technology category, with Smyth’s EUROSPAR, Ballymoney; SPAR Loughbrickland, Co. Down and SPAR Titanic, Belfast making up the shortlist. All have implemented the award-winning innovative EDGEPoS system from Henderson Technology, alongside further solutions by the company including self-checkout tills and stock control systems providing seamless operations for staff and shoppers.

Winners, Aaron and Dale Beckett from SPAR Loughbrickland use a wide range of technology to run their multi-site business, from admin including an employee payroll app and Drop Box file sharing, to operational tech in-store including digital refrigeration alerts, refrigeration heat recovery systems, digital deli menu screens and self-scan checkouts to name a few. They also invested £35,000 to install Henderson Technology’s Electronic Shelf Edge Labels and are expecting to achieve an increase in margin of approx. 0.6% and save an average of 10 hours staff time per week for changeovers. It follows Henderson Technology’s trial of the digital shelf edge pricing earlier this year, which has proven benefits which range from increased profits to savings from no longer needing to print original card labels.

SPAR Titanic, Belfast took home the Food to Go Retailer of the Year award after investing over £680,000 into its new premises, which has provided an increase in sales since moving to its larger site in the Titanic Quarter in 2017. The move also meant the range of food available could be extended to include freshly chopped salads and homemade hot meals alongside pizza and burgers.

The store also invested in technology including self-checkouts and app ordering to help manage the flow of shoppers and provide a more efficient food-to-go service.

Mark McCammond, Retail Director at Henderson Group added special congratulations should also go to Courtney Spurling from SPAR Maxol Tate’s Avenue in Belfast who was shortlisted for Sales Assistant of the Year; “Our Retail staff have been an integral part of  keeping our communities going over the past six months, and we want to congratulate all our staff for their efforts, with a special mention for Courtney’s recognition.”

The Convenience Awards are organised by conveniencestore.co.uk, Lumina Intelligence and The Grocer, and recognise the very best people, retailers, businesses and initiatives from across the convenience retail industry.