Taking a fresh look at your business to maximise its potential was the key message at this year’s Blakemore Trade Partners Spar Retail Show, held this week at the Telford International Centre.

The event encompassed a conference, dinner and trade show, with leading Spar retailers showcasing their success alongside suppliers and industry experts.

Blakemore Trade Partners’s managing director Jerry Marwood explained: “We are all trading in the fastest-growing sector of retail, which is a fantastic place to be, but it’s not without its challenges. The need to remain competitive and the new living wage will place even more financial pressure onto our businesses.

“Therefore Blakemore Trade Partners has taken a fresh look at the support we can offer to retailers to help maximise their profitability, with a strategy looking at what we can do to help both immediately and longer term.

“We have a new range of initiatives to support our trade partners over the next 12 to 18 months, but we would also encourage retailers take a closer look at how they can make the most of existing opportunities too.”

Blakemore Trade Partners sales director Neil Mercer and head of marketing Sarah Ellis highlighted the support offered by the business to help retailers stand out in the marketplace and announced new initiatives designed to drive sales and footfall, improve store efficiencies and reduce business costs.

Neil Mercer said: “There is a wealth of experience within the Blakemore Trade Partners team that retailers can tap into. This can provide a fresh pair of eyes, whether that’s to look at development opportunities, local marketing support or staff training needs, all of which are designed to drive sales and footfall, improve store efficiencies or reduce business costs.

“This financial year Blakemore Trade Partners has made a £1.5m investment in its Retail Partners Scheme, reducing wholesale prices for core retail partners to ensure that we have the strongest prices on key retail lines.

“Store investment also continues to be at the fore of our thinking, and each year we set aside £2 million to co-invest in developments across our independent estate.”

Mercer then outlined the latest developments in the business’s foodservice offering, with this February seeing the launch of Spar’s new foodservice brand, Daily Deli. Blakemore Spar retailers are also piloting a new partnership with leading Irish coffee brand Insomnia, which will be trialled at stores in Cardiff and Market Harborough.

Sarah Ellis followed with an update on new marketing initiatives: “All of our stores can receive a free marketing audit that highlights the local opportunities available to them to enhance the national marketing strategy, but in addition we have launched a brand new marketing club that will enable retailers to further increase their local marketing activity to drive basket spend and footfall in their stores.

“We are currently testing a number of business-to-consumer digital initiatives and developing a new online customer relationship management system and digital business-to-business strategy, as well as new retail technology that will provide retailers with improved access to sales data.”

Delegates also heard from retailers who highlighted the importance of continuous store investment, the benefits of active selling to drive sales, and the need for retailers to focus on their fresh categories.

The conference was closed by Spar UK managing director Debbie Robinson, who reminded delegates of the continued success of Spar as a symbol group, citing Spar’s recent industry awards success, award-winning own-brand product range, national television and digital advertising campaign and successful Shop & Win consumer marketing drive.