Jerry Marwood AF Blakemore Group CEO

AF Blakemore Group CEO Jerry Marwood

AF Blakemore Group CEO Jerry Marwood issued a rallying call to independent retailers at its Trade Partners’ Spar Retail Show this year.

The Blakemore Trade Partners (BTP) conference and tradeshow, which took New World, New Opportunities as its key theme, took place at Telford International Centre on 16 June and attracted more than 1,000 suppliers, colleagues and retailers from across Spar UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.

The event addressed the opportunities ahead for independent retailers and how Spar and Blakemore Trade Partners are positioned to help them take advantage.

Marwood explained: “I believe we run our business and our business partnerships in a way that’s different from our competitors.

“Spar is a truly independent brand working solely to drive sales for independent retailers. We’re here only to support your desire to be a successful independent business.

“If ever there was a time to be part of a collective like Spar, then it’s now. All over the UK and all over the world other Spar retailers are working through problems and sharing solutions – there is no other network like this.”

Commercial director Louis Drake announced a stock and sell scheme to help retailers increase sales and profit. By signing up and implementing a core range of products, retailers serviced by Blakemore Trade Partners can receive free stock to the retail value of £10,000 per store, collectively benefiting from a profit injection of more than £2.8m this financial year.

Delegates also heard about the opportunities in home delivery, and Spar operators Dean Holborn and Elfed Roberts spoke about the business benefits of retailers getting involved in their local communities.

Linked in with this, Spar UK managing director Louise Hoste talked about the Joy of Living Locally brand positioning and specifically Spar’s Community Cashback Scheme, which this year has awarded £100,000 to local good causes, innovation in store formats and the strength of the Spar brand range.

Spar International managing director Tobias Wasmuht highlighted how all opportunities will be underpinned by the strength of the Spar brand. Spar is one of the most recognised names in the convenience market and the only independent retail organisation that is truly international, with more than 13,600 stores in 48 countries. Global retail sales grew 3.3% to €41.2bn in 2021.

Collective buying across the world has now bought Spar retailers in the UK a new ‘No1’ value range. Exclusive to symbol group members, it provides shoppers with a wider choice of quality everyday essentials at great prices.

A key focus of the show was innovation in store development. Spar retailer Ian Lewis inspired delegates with how he has embraced the Spar Market format at his Minster Lovell store. Growing fresh participation has increased retail sales by 15% since 2017.

Meanwhile, Spar retailer Tristan King told delegates how he has developed his own food-to-go brand, Kings Kitchen, with support from the Blakemore team.

Addressing his fellow retailers, King said: “Always look ahead positively; there is always opportunity. In Blakemore Trade Partners we all work with a partner that is prepared to support us with their expertise, manpower and investment. So, make sure you are fully engaged and use all the help, advice, and investment that is available to help you make the most of your opportunity.”