The UK’s number one wholesaler, Palmer and Harvey, honoured the best independent retailers in the UK at the annual Pro-retail Awards on 10th May.

The winners took to the stage to accept their awards in front of a 1600-strong gala dinner crowd, including TV Star Mary Portas, at the retail industry’s number one industry show for independents.

Abertay Services Mace Express, Scotland took home the converted Independent Forecourt Retailer of the Year Award. The store has created a point of difference between itself and other shops in the area by developing an outstanding alcohol range, alongside a great all-round offer. The store also runs regular promotions, offers take-away food, and regularly donates to local charities.

Palmer and Harvey awarded the accolade of Multiple Forecourt Retailer of the Year Award to North Road Filling Station, Newcastle. The store has achieved massive sale increase this year due to a complete knockdown and rebuild, creating a state-of-the-art store that answers every customer’s need. The store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers fresh meat and vegetables, a wide alcohol selection and coffee-to-go. The store prides itself on its excellent customer service with the staff knowing all regular customers by name.

Shopkeepers Vip and Amy Panchmatia, of Hexagon Stores, Andover, won the Convenience Retailer of the Year Award. The Mace Hexagon store recently reopened after a substantial refit that doubled the shop’s size and increased sales substantially. While the refit was happening, the Panchmatias were so dedicated to serving their customers they opened a temporary cabin shop outside. Vip Panchmatia, owner of Mace Hexagon Stores, says: “This award is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and the loyalty of our customers. We are truly honoured.”

Symbol Retailer of the Year went to Mace Red Tiles Service Station in Durham. Red Tiles not only excels at all the essential retail principles but has rolled out a range of new initiatives.

Over the past year store manager Darren MacDonald has introduced a ‘try before you buy’ scheme in the fresh fruit and vegetable section, piloted Fresh Express – a new food-to-go offer which has seen a 35 per cent increase in revenue for the store and introduced a customer service incentive scheme with his staff.

Palmer and Harvey awarded the accolade of News Retailer of the Year Award to the Henderson Group, Luton. The Henderson Group has achieved great sales each year despite local competition from large multiples. It has created a point of difference between itself and other shops by making itself a destination retailer for its news and magazine range, stocking 75 per cent of available titles.

The shop makes 300 home deliveries per week and ensures they have the news before any of its competition. It delivers to local businesses, hotels and sheltered accommodation and prides itself on excellent customer services.

Gordon Henderson, managing director of Henderson Group, says: “Magazines and newspapers are the lifeblood of my business. We work tirelessly to ensure Henderson is somewhere you can pick up any magazine or newspaper. If we don’t have it then we will get it in for you. To be recognised for all the hard work myself, my brother, Duncan, and all our staff put into the shop is something I am very proud of.”

The Palmer and Harvey annual Pro-retail Awards celebrate the retail excellence found amongst its 20,000-strong customer base of independents, CTNs, convenience stores and forecourt shops. They recognise stores that have gone out of their way to improve profits and provide an excellent service to their customers.

Commenting on the awards, Richard Hayhoe, marketing director of Palmer and Harvey, says: “These are tough times for independent retailers and for a store to achieve sales growth in this climate is something that should be celebrated. The retailers entered for these awards are amongst the best in the country – to win is a massive honour.”

Additionally, Palmer and Harvey’s managing director, Peter Austen, presented the Palmer and Harvey Supplier of the Year Awards.
Product of the Year went to Britvic for their launch of Mountain Dew Energy Drink. Winner of the PlusExtra Supplier of the Year was Allied Bakeries, with Alcohol Supplier of the Year being awarded to Molson Coors. Arla Foods picked up the Chilled, Fresh and Frozen Award, whilst Cadbury took home the award for Palmer and Harvey Ambient Supplier of the Year. Winner of the prestigious Palmer and Harvey Supplier of the Year Award was Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Pro-retail is the must-attend event in the calendar for independent and multiple convenience retailers attracting over 6,500 visitors. Held in Telford, Shropshire, Pro-retail draws more than 220 leading suppliers and manufacturers, making it a not-to-miss industry event for exhibitors and visitors alike.

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