Got a question about the National Lottery or a query about the impending tobacco display ban? Want to extend your food-to-go offer or start selling e-cigs? The answers to all these queries and many more will be available at the National Convenience Show (NCS), which takes place at the Birmingham NEC from Monday March 24 to Wednesday March 26.

Big name exhibitors will include: Association of Convenience Stores, Bobbys Foods, Booker, Budgens, Burtons Biscuits, Camelot, Costco, Ginsters, Heineken, HTEC, JTI, Kerry Foods, Londis, Mars Ice Cream, Mars Petcare, Molson Coors, MyHermes, Nestlé UK, Paypoint, Perfetti Van Melle, Pork Farms, Pussy Drinks, Rollover, Subway, Unilever, United Biscuits and Zippo UK.

The e-cig companies, in particular, will be out in force: Cigtronica, E-Cig, E-Lites, Litejoy, Lite-up, Multicig, Nicolites, N Joy, Nucig, Royal Hill, Vapestick and Vaporize will all be there.

Stands that stand out

Looking for healthy ready meals? Then check out Kerry Foods (stand number J130) to see the firm’s new range of LowLow frozen healthy ready meals. There are eight varieties, each containing fewer than 350 calories.

Worried about fake bank notes? The Bank of England (stand number C137) will be showing examples of counterfeit bank notes, explaining how to use bank note security features to check that notes are genuine, and giving out free staff training material.

Want a new energy product? Block Head (stand number C88) is described as a ’new generation’ product. The compressed energy gum delivers a sugar-free boost via patented technology that is said to act five times faster than an energy drink.

Interested in a no-risk range of cards and gifts? Cardgroup (stand number D158) offers a striking range of velvet cards, gift bags and wrap on a full sale or return basis. Its new Boutique concept allows retailers to display a mixture of cards, bags and wrap plus art stickers all on one stand.

Looking at refreshing your chilled range? Pork Farms (stand number B128) is relaunching its range of savoury products at the show. The range includes great value price-marked packs of slices and sausage rolls. The brand also moves to 100% British meat across the range.

Want to boost your food-to-go offer? Taste Inc (stand number D111) is a chicken sandwich and burger brand that offers a range of microwaveable snacks. They are made from 100% chicken breast, all have fewer than 500 calories and can be ready in just 90 seconds!

Interested in playing music in your store? Find out more from PPL (stand number B91), which licenses recorded music played in public or broadcast on radio, TV and the internet, and then distributes the licence fees to its performer and rightholder members.

Want to cash in on the craze for protein products? Pulsin’s vanilla choc chip protein bar (stand number D149), which is apparently great for people looking for a slower releasing bar. It’s been designed for all types of people on the go, who are looking for a snack that will sustain them for longer. It’s free from gluten, dairy, soya, egg and wheat and provides 12g of protein.

On the look out for a quality lighter range? Try Zippo (stand number C128), and it’s All in One kit. This contains the brand’s best-selling model 200 brushed chrome lighter, a tin of lighter fluid and a six-flint dispenser.

Want to offer your customers some refreshment? Check out the newest member of the Solero family. Based on the taste of the Mojito cocktail, this ’adults only’ fresh water ice, is made with lemon and lime juice and mint, with a hint of rum (stand J110).

More to explore

As well as all the exhibitor stands to see, NCS will once again have its Live@the Counter presentations and seminars.

Highlights from this year’s timetable include:

What’s the Story Morning Glory? Subway unveils its new breakfast offer.

Don’t Waste Your Energy a panel debating business costs, which will include Forecourt Trader of the Year winner Jonathan James.

The State of the Convenience Store Nation a unique study into the current status, opportunities and challenges within the convenience sector, presented by Him! and Nielsen.

The Enemy on the Streets JTI discusses the threat posed by the illicit tobacco trade.

Finally, remember that the ACS Summit 2014 takes place alongside the show. Headline guest is Chris Tanco, global president of 7-Eleven, which operates 51,500 c-stores worldwide.

Also speaking at the event is another Forecourt Trader of the Year winner, Patrick Sewell of the Sewell Group.

forecourt Trader at the shoW

Make sure you are at the National Convenience Show’s Live@the Counter stage at 11am on Tuesday March 25 to attend a special forecourt session featuring PRA chairman Brian Madderson talking about issues affecting the sector as well as a presentation about duty deferment and a report on Future Forecourts .
This will be followed by the announcement of the 2014 Best Forecourt Loo; make sure you’re there to hear which forecourt is flushed with success! Following the presentation there will be an informal buffet lunch nearby, where you can network with other retailers.
If you’d like to catch up with Merril and the team, you can also visit the Forecourt Trader stand, number J140.