The event, free to all Blakemore Trade Partners retailers, took place virtually on 19th October and was attended by suppliers, colleagues and retailers from across SPAR UK’s Meridian & Welsh Guild.
AFB Group Commercial Managing Director Jerry Marwood said: “If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years, it’s that the SPAR model of independent businesses collaborating for mutual benefit works now more than ever. Being part of an organisation that protects your independence is vital for a vibrant retail community. We are truly stronger together.”
The conference highlighted all the ways that Blakemore Trade Partners (BTP) is investing in its retailers to grow their businesses.
One of the key initiatives to help maximise the sales and profits of retailers is A.F. Blakemore’s New Era stores programme. The first store to launch on the programme, Blakemore Retail’s Bala store in North Wales, has delivered exceptional results and is soon to be followed by several independent stores across the Meridian & Welsh Guild.
BTP will be working closely in partnership with retailers to develop their stores, providing tailored design, range, pricing and marketing support, as well as the finance to deliver retailers’ projects.
Delegates heard from award-winning retailer Conrad Davies on how co-investment from BTP enabled him to carry out a store development that has increased fresh food sales to 53% of his total and grown basket spend by 33%.
He said: “I knew where I wanted to go with my development journey, and between Blakemore’s, SPAR UK and SPAR International I was able to see, experience and touch all the things that would help me get there.
“I had the confidence to invest because I talked to people who’d made it work, who knew the pitfalls and who had the experience to help. There are very few businesses that offer the kind of support that Blakemore’s offered me, and they offer it to others too.”
The event outlined all the support BTP can offer retailers with day-to-day practicalities, including legislation changes.
A.F. Blakemore has launched a practical support package for retailers that enables them to trade in compliance with Natasha’s Law. It includes support with providing a compliant food-to-go range, production instructions, and hardware; help with training store staff and a network of AFB colleagues who can help retailers maintain compliance after the initial introduction of the law.
Comprehensive support will also be available when the new HFSS legislation is introduced next October. Blakemore Retail is currently trialling new store layouts so that the business will be able to recommend the best course of action for retailers who will need to alter their layouts to comply with the regulations.
To secure the long-term future of retailers, this year has seen A.F. Blakemore open a brand-new state-of-the-art distribution centre in Bedford.
BTP Commercial Director Louis Drake underlined just how important partnership is to the company’s purpose: to grow a family business in ways that are profitable and sustainable for the benefit of colleagues, customers and communities.
He explained: “It’s in our DNA. It’s in our culture. Behind all our customers there are people, families and communities, so to us it’s personal. Whilst economic conditions, customer behaviour and the environment may change, the way that we achieve our objectives and our commitment won’t.”