SPAR Cadogan – focusing on priorities

Most retailers would shudder at the idea of removing 15 bays of shelving, but SPAR Cadogan is combining youth and experience in innovative ways.

At just 28-years-old, Andy Davis is part of an impressive partnership making big waves among the rising tides of Northern Irish retail.

Andy and business partner Graham Johnston operate the retail group 77 Retail Ltd, and have transformed one of their flagship outlets, SPAR Cadogan, into a modern concept store.

The always busy, occasionally frantic, Lisburn Road is a retailing hot spot, and made for convenience stores. Lined with businesses of all shapes, sizes, and residents of all incomes, and ages, it’s a hyper-competitive market.

But despite his relative youth, Andy is not without experience.

“I got involved with retail at the age of 14, working at a shop in Saintfield, which was owned by Graham,” he told Neighbourhood Retailer. “I worked there part time and then left for a while. Then after school I returned in 2006 and soon became a supervisor, then assistant manager at another store in Carryduff.”

After two years, Andy and Graham went into business together, and have grown their network to five, with stores in Ballynure, Dundonald, Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, Grand Street in Lisburn, and, of course, the Lisburn Road.

The barista bar offer

The Barista bar station

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but we’re getting there,” Andy said.

Now Andy has used his experience and youthful daring to completely rethink the SPAR Cadogan store, undertaking a complete overhaul of this popular and pivotal shop.

“We wanted to achieve a better food operation with more variety as we felt we’d grown quite restricted,” he said.

“The overhaul was quite significant; we even had to cut into the floor to install our new deli counter.”

Andy revealed the partners had invested £130,000 in the refit, which has created a huge open kitchen area, preparing food for 77 Retail Ltd’s food brand, ‘Green Deli’.

“We vastly increased the size of the deli and rebranded it,” Andy said. “We’ve installed a burrito bar, a fresh carvery, and a wider range of freshly prepared sandwiches.

“It’s all homemade food – we don’t buy anything in. It’s all prepared instore, including curries, pepper chicken, stews… everything.”

Andy and Graham even brought in a catering manager to oversee the deli’s operation, with Sarah-Jane Harvey helping to increase the range and build the Green Deli brand.

The open kitchen forms part a new floor plan, which features a self-service barista bar and seating area near the entrance.


The expanded instore deli counter

The expanded deli counter

“It’s part of Henderson’s Feed Me Now concept, with grab-and-go coffee, sandwiches, salad bowls, and fruit bowls all in a line, so people in a hurry that don’t have time to queue can run in and grab what they want.”

Speeding things up further is the Green Deli app, where time-poor workers can order their sandwiches using their smartphone so they’re ready for collection when they arrive.

The emphasis on grab-and-go meant stripping back much of the shop to accommodate the new features, and streamline the store’s flow.

“We took away 15 bays of shelving during the refit,” Andy said. “We also reduced a lot of categories down. We worked closely with Henderson’s to strengthen the store’s convenience range as we wanted to make the store more open and more spacious.”

The effect has been dramatic, with the store’s interior feeling brighter, bigger, and much more appealing.

It also gives more impact to the Post Office located at the rear of the store, and Andy has news about that side of the business too.

The new shelving at Spar Cadogan

Some of the updated shelving at Spar Cadogan

“We’ve recently been selected to have a customer relationship manager in the Post Office, who can offer financial advice to customers.

“We have a range of financial products on offer, from pet insurance to health insurance, and have a dedicated consultation space at the back of the store where customers can speak to the customer relationship manager in confidence.

“It’s not about being pushy with customers, it’s all about helping them make sound financial decisions. It’s a new venture for us, and we’ve received lots of good feedback.”

The role of the Post Offices also ties in with Andy and Graham’s community ethos. This is manifested instore too, where black and white imagery of Cranmore Park adorns the walls.

They also rewarded local shoppers with free burritos on the day of the Spar Cadogan’s relaunch and held a daily customer appreciation draw at the end of October.

With the store now sleeker, shinier, and set to impress, Cadogan is already attracting many new shoppers. But not only does the store stand-out on the competition-strewn street, it’s also fending off competition from the area’s popular Marks & Spencer food hall, which sits directly across the busy road.

the store is also equipped with a Gelato counter

The store is also equipped with a Gelato counter

“I think we probably complement each other,” Andy said of the opposing store. “We have a different offer, and local brands which M&S don’t really do, such as our ‘hero bakery’ Country Kitchen.

“Local products are a big part of Henderson’s plans, so you don’t get that in M&S, and you don’t get a Post Office either.”

And speaking about the relationship with Henderson’s, Andy added: “They’re all about ongoing development, with a huge emphasis on local products and fresh food, and fruit and veg – it’s massive for them, and massive for us.

“Our transition to SPAR from our previous symbol group was a very smooth process. Graham and I have had an excellent working relationship with our business development manager from the start, who helped us get set up with IT training which has been very helpful for our staff.

Some tasty pastry

Some tasty pastry

“Even more importantly, they introduced us to the Henderson Marketing team who have played a big part in helping us get our name out there and raise awareness of our in-store offering, be it our burrito bar or our weekly deals.

“The retail services and merchandising support has proved invaluable alongside our marketing support and is definitely something that we are pleased to have.

“The desire for quality services and products can be seen through the suppliers that are recommended to us as well as the services provided to us through the Henderson Group.”

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