With entries for The Convenience Awards 2021 now open, we caught up with Linda Carrington, manager of Spar Laceby Lodge which won Best Multiple Managed Store at last year’s event.
The store fought off some strong competition in the category and Linda explains how the award boosted the morale of everyone working there. “It’s changed the atmosphere, everybody is positive and excited. It’s a massive achievement for the full team. It’s not like we weren’t happy before but now there’s a feeling of recognition for all of our hard work.”
She said she was surprised when the store’s name was called out, especially given the other shortlisted stores. “When I was looking at the other finalists, I realised there are some really good stores out there as well as us. It’s been hard work and it was nerve-wracking on the night but we’ve done it and it was a massive achievement. Spar sent us flowers and champagne to help us celebrate.”
Top customer service
Customer service is a huge focus for Linda’s team and they made sure to know that all their regulars knew they had won. “All of our staff are constantly speaking to customers and it made for big news. We have a lot of elderly customers who don’t go to supermarkets, so we’ll do a virtual shop for them and when they found out we won, they emailed our head office to congratulate us.”
As well as telling their shoppers, Linda proudly displays the certificate in store for everyone to see. “We’ve put the certificate on display in the store and the award is in the office as it’s so big and if it fell over and smashed, it would break my heart!”
In what proved to be a successful year for Linda, she was also recognised for her exceptional services to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic with a British Empire Medal (BEM) in The Queen’s New Year Honours for 2021.
She urges other managers to get involved with the awards. “I 100% would encourage other store managers to enter. It’s a massive recognition for what you do day-in and day-out. We don’t do this for the money, we do it because we love the job and enjoy it.”
Linda has taken the opportunity to make some additions to the store in anticipation of what she thinks will be a busy year ahead. “We’ve added Calor Gas to the store. We’re on a coastal road where there’s a lot of caravans close to the seaside and we were being asked quite often for it. It’s going to grow massively because people are holidaying in the UK more in caravans which they need gas for. We’ve got some caravan sites near us so the demand will be there for us.”
Adding a frozen section
She’s also hoping to introduce a new frozen section to the store. “Also due to more customers not going to supermarkets, we’re hoping to introduce a new freezer section with a frozen range. We do have frozen lines but they’re in the impulse freezer section so it’d be good to have a dedicated section.”
While trading grew during the pandemic, Linda believes this is just the start and she wants to be ready for it. “We’ll continue to go above and beyond for each of our customers.
“I think we’ll be busier in 2021. We’ve got a bigger customer base than before with new shoppers coming in and because of the customer service they’re getting, we’ll keep them. We rely on word of mouth so the more customers who have a good experience, the more likely it is to be shared.
“I think it’s going to be a win-win for us in 2021 and we’re all ready for it.”
Want to rub shoulders with the top retailers in the country? The Convenience Awards 2021, brought to you by ConvenienceStore.co.uk, The Grocer and Lumina Intelligence, are now accepting entries. If you think your store has what it takes to be the very best in the industry, enter now.