A Sleaford Spar shop has scooped the top award at a gala dinner to round off the Spar Retail Show.
The annual trade show is staged by Spar wholesalers A F Blakemore for all its business suppliers as well as holding a conference on sales improvement. The Baldwin Trophy is awarded to one store every year, celebrating the very best in the Meridien and Welsh region which covers Wales, the Midlands, East Anglia and the South East.
Hockmeyer Motors Spar shop on Lincoln Road, Sleaford was crowned best Spar store in recognition of retailers Rachael Hockmeyer and husband Christian Slingby’s focus on driving their business and incredible commitment to the local community.
The event was held on Thursday, coinciding with the wholesaler’s 100th anniversary and Rachael Hockmeyer said they were really pleased with the award, having taken over running the petrol forecourt store in 2003.
Rachael said they were selected from a shortlist of six out 700 stores, nominated by the regional managers for their outstanding performances.
Since switching to Spar six years ago, Rachael and Christian have not stopped developing the business, including a refit of the store a year later, expanding into the former car sales showroom from when they were a Skoda and Daihatsu dealership, taking it from 997sq ft to 2,100sq ft and forecourt refurbishment.
This year, they launched Spar’s ‘food-to-go’ service, Daily Deli, expanding the chilled area in the store for fresh meat, produce, ready meals and soft drinks.
Rachael said: “Now we have premium sandwiches and wraps, salads and burgers at lunchtime. We will be doing extra fillings in the run up to Christmas and have launched a range of premium takeaway food to put in the microwave as that is what the customers are looking for, as well as more meat, vegetables and speciality cheeses.”
This decision has seen sales of food to go increase by 8.7 per cent, chilled by 20 per cent and soft drinks by 15 per cent. Snacks, including cakes and biscuits, have also risen by 11 per cent.
Rachael added: “We still have the workshops here employing five staff, but we stopped selling cars over five years ago. We have never looked back from switching to Spar and expanding the store. It was a big risk then and was a very expensive project but worth it. We would not go back to selling cars now - it has been the best thing for us and the staff.”
Before joining Spar they employed 19 staff, now they have 33, much of that is kitchen staff required to cater for the Daily Deli.
Neil Mercer, Blakemore Trade Partners Sales Director, said he was delighted that Rachael and Christian had been recognised for their fantastic achievements, and all their hard work.
He said: “Hockmeyer Motors SparSleaford is a store right at the heart of its local community. They give a huge amount of raffle prizes and donations to numerous local organisations throughout the year. They also provide space for the diabetic screening unit and the mobile mammogram unit at the site.
“What’s more, they have been instrumental with the set up of Shock Sleaford to cover the whole of Sleaford with defibrillators – there are now 17 in the local area, including one at their own store,” he said.
Christian had led this through his work in the Round Table and by the end of this year they will have raised enough from carrier bag sales and donations tins to buy two more defibrillators.