The owners of a service station in the Scottish Highlands have scooped the High Street Hero award at the Pro-retail 2014 gala dinner, organised by Palmer and Harvey.
Duncan and Chrissy Ross from Lochcarron Garage near Inverness have taken the 40-year-old business to a new level since taking it over from Duncan’s father.
They have increased their store sales by 30% in the last year by providing the local village community with outstanding personal customer service and promotional deals every three weeks. The store is also an invaluable source of support to local people.
During the winter power cuts they offered free candles and cooking stoves to the elderly and made enquiries if any elderly person wasn’t in the store for two days or more to make sure they were safe. They also leave their exterior rest rooms unlocked during the winter for use by passing motorists on the 60-mile journey to Inverness free of charge.
They try to be as sustainable as possible and have a flock of 120 hens supplying the store with fresh eggs. They also provide the local school with compost and pot plants to help with lessons on the environment and help to line the local verges with flowers to welcome visitors.
The Retailer of the Year award was also presented and it went to Chris Englefield from BW News in Bridgewater, Somerset. An honorary award - Outstanding Contribution to Retail – was handed to James Lowman for his work supporting the sector over the past seven years as chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
The High Street Hero of the Year and Retailer of the Year recognise the success of retailers and their contribution to the communities that they serve. Both winners receive a thousand pounds-worth of free stock as prizes.
The winners were toasted by a 1,600-strong gala dinner crowd, including ex-Formula One driver, three-time Le Mans winner and sports commentator Allan McNish, Sussex County Cricket Club’s chief executive Zac Toumazi, former footballer Tony Cottey and comedian compere Dara O’Briain.
Martyn Ward, managing director of Palmer and Harvey, praised the high quality of this year’s retailer award winners: “As retailers face increasingly competitive trading conditions, there is constant pressure to make improvements. Our winners have shown determination, innovation and outstanding initiative. They’ve also given their free time and services to the communities they serve ensuring they’re a key part of their local neighbourhoods; in turn, a loyal customer base is brought back to their doors.
“We’re also delighted to recognise James Lowman’s outstanding contribution to retail. James has worked tirelessly to improve the lot of thousands of retailers. Under his stewardship the ACS has campaigned and made sure that the needs of retailers are recognised by policy makers across the UK. He deserves our thanks.”