Spar wholesaler Blakemore Trade Partners retail training centre, The Guild Academy, has launched a new apprenticeship scheme designed specifically for the convenience retail market.

The Spar wholesaler’s training academy linked up with Retail Skill Smart in summer 2010 to develop the Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Retail Management.

So far 15 individuals from the West Midlands have signed up to the scheme, designed to develop retail management acumen, while providing opportunities to network with like-minded owners and managers.

The programme consists of a number of workshops delivered by the Guild Academy team covering subjects including legislation, health and safety, managing performance and growing sales.

In addition, delegates complete a work-based project to ensure that they can transfer what they have learned into a store environment. As a result of the project, a number of significant cost savings and profit-enhancing initiatives have been implemented in the stores, offering strong return on the investment made.

Melanie Walker, Blakemore Trade Partners Learning and Development Manager, said: “The first group of students have all passed the programme which helped boost their confidence and retail knowledge.

“Now, three more groups have enrolled, with the Guild Academy intent on providing this opportunity to stores across the Meridian & Welsh Guild over the coming years,” she said.

The scheme represents another success story for the Guild Academy, which has trained more than 2,000 retail staff, since its creation in June 2008, with 87% of retail customers represented on at least one course.

“The Academy was established to provide professional, free and targeted learning and development opportunities to independent SPAR store members in the Meridian & Welsh Guild area,” said Walker. “Its goals are to help independent retailers maximise their potential and help them give great service and make a positive contribution to their local community.

“The courses’ training content is designed specifically for Spar retailers and is aimed at all levels of management and staff. Our courses are practical and interactive, and are constantly reviewed to ensure that they meet retailers’ requirements,” she added.

Retailers can find out more by visiting