Henderson Retail has just completed the £500,000 fit-out of the recently constructed SPAR Carnmoney Hill, the first of its new builds to open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing 21 new jobs to the local community.

Mark McCammond, Retail Director at Henderson Group which owns the SPAR brand in Northern Ireland, says it has not been without its challenges, but this new store has an important role to play in setting the new standards of shopping for Northern Ireland.

Mark commented; “we started this build back in 2019, and had originally hoped to open in May however, due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, we had to stop the construction and of course, adjust our plans around the future of retail here in Northern Ireland.”

As one of the essential businesses which remained open throughout lockdown, Mark says they have overcome huge challenges to set the standard of safety across the entire network, and the project at SPAR Carnmoney Hill has provided an opportunity to incorporate all the new safety measures as part of the store design.

“Overnight we had to put safety measures in place as an essential business providing a service for our local communities. Including our independent retail stores, there are over 460 SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO branded stores in Northern Ireland. We moved fast, to secure all the vital materials we needed to provide the safest possible environment for shoppers and staff, even as lockdown eases.”

Beyond the enhanced distancing and safety features, the store will operate with an abundance of fresh and locally sourced products, a local butchery counter from Irvine’s Chop Shop, a SPAR Bakery and will stock ‘The Chef’ range of ready-prepared meals from the brand’s chef partner, Carl Johannesson.

The store was officially opened by local resident and recently retired former SPAR store manager, Bertie Tyrrell who worked for Henderson Retail for over 20 years in a variety of store and support team roles. He was joined by his wife Kate who also worked for the company.

Mark added; “the amenities and services provided in the store are second to none, including our popular Barista Bar coffee and treats. We are also looking forward to launching our Mauds Ice-cream counter as local customers will be aware that Carnmoney Hill was the original retail outlet for the famous local brand. The store will also feature self-scan checkouts as another option for customers looking for fast, contactless payment methods.”

Since March 2020, Henderson Group has invested over £1 million in protective measures and communications for retailers and shoppers.

Henderson Retail have significant future investment plans in place and will open two further new-build community supermarkets in 2020, at EUROSPAR Millisle in County Down and ViVOXTRA Newry Road, Banbridge, both of which are at advanced stages of construction.