Blakemore Trade Partners (BTP) has announced a new match-funding scheme for Spar stores in the company’s catchment area of central England and Wales.

Under the scheme, which was unveiled at the company’s retail show last week, retailers investing in store development will have their outlay matched pound for pound by BTP, with £2m set aside to fund the programme. Retailers have to sign up to a five-year trading agreement with Spar to qualify.

The distributor has co-invested in retailers’ stores for many years, but previously this was capped at 30% of the expenditure. BTP sales director Neil Mercer pointed out that developed stores have seen an average sales increase of 27.1% compared to non-developed stores, where sales grew only 0.5% over the same period.

Also announced at the show was the move to more hyperlocal marketing, with Spar retailers now able to personalise promotions leaflets and point-of-sale materials, and also send SMS messages to customers within the vicinity of their stores.

Mercer said: “Blakemore Trade Partners has always focused on a customer-first strategy, whether through store format development, category management or marketing activity.

“In an increasingly competitive environment, having the customer at the heart of our strategy will continue to deliver a unique and flexible store proposition as well as cementing our role in the communities within which Spar operates.”

At the event, Hockmeyer Motors in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was crowned as the best Spar store in the Meridian & Welsh Guild.

Since moving to Spar six years ago, husband and wife team Rachael Hockmeyer and Christian Slingby have continually invested in the business, including a refit of the store taking it from 997sq ft to 2,100sq ft, the introduction of Daily Deli food to go and the expansion of chilled space to increase the range of fresh meat, produce, ready meals and soft drinks.

Neil Mercer said he was delighted that Rachael and Christian had been recognised for their fantastic achievements, and all their hard work.

“Hockmeyer Motors Spar Sleaford is a store right at the heart of its local community,” he said. ”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 chemotherapy unit at the site.

“What’s more, they have been instrumental with the setup 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,” Mercer added.