Retail excellence was the theme at this year’s Blakemore Trade Partners Spar Retail Show where the company announced a number of initiatives, including a £4m investment in AF Blakemore’s IT strategy, and a further £1.6m investment in the company’s Retail Partners Scheme.

A further initiative is the creation of a retail excellence team by AF Blakemore and the Meridian & Welsh Guild’s Academy to promote retail excellence principles and share best practice across the company’s Spar estate.

Blakemore Trade Partners managing director Jerry Marwood explained: “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.

“Therefore Blakemore Trade Partners has established a new retail excellence programme dedicated to driving the basket spend and frequency of visit of our retailers’ existing customers.

“We have scrutinised every aspect of our own business and our retailers’ businesses to identify small incremental improvements that will add up to one significant improvement for our stores when added together.”

The event included a conference, trade show featuring 190 suppliers, and dinner, and was attended by 1,000 guests including 420 retailers from across Spar UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.

Guest speakers included several Spar retailers including Mark Barnard from former Forecourt Trader of the Year Spar Cosford, owned by the JSK Group.

Also presenting was managing director of Spar International Tobias Wasmuht, who provided an insight into the Spar brand across the world, and sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte OBE, who discussed the key principles required to achieve excellence.