Trade comment with Martin Agnew

Managing director of the Henderson Group, Martin Agnew, tells Neighbourhood Retailer how 2018 was a year of innovative new ideas for the company

“2018 was the year of innovation at Henderson Group, with all of our companies, from Wholesale to Technology, delivering unique services and products which boosted our growth in the market.

“Henderson Retail opened six new community supermarkets last year, as well as managing major expansions for the SPAR brand, including the new SPAR Fortfield concept store in Carrickfergus.

“The store, which stands at 7,000 sq. ft, elevates the level of services and products on offer to the local community; there is a mix of food-to-go with extended product ranges and exclusive to SPAR Fortfield, there is the first ever Barista Bar Café, plus Burger King and Subway counters on site, and an enhanced Daily Deli food-to-go bar.

“Food-to-go is the key selling point of the store and our niche in this area in the market is a clear point of innovation going forward by combining our foodservice smarts with our fresh foods knowledge. We hosted a team of delegates from convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the UK, in 2018, who toured several EUROSPARs to learn from our retailers’ standard of food-to-go.

“Organised by the Retail Industry Awards, it was a chance for them to see how we were developing this area differently to our colleagues in the rest of the UK, from the likes of Creighton’s EUROSPAR of Balmoral, EUROSPAR Donegall Road and Mulkern’s EUROSPAR in Newry. It is important to highlight our retailers’ successes as we continue to invest and nurture our retail network in this growing area.

“In further fresh food developments, our consumer offering expanded and diversified through the enjoy local and The Kitchen own-brands. Early indicators for sales show an increase thanks to our investment in the shopper experience through the ‘inSPARations’ communications, helping shoppers put together a value option for tonight’s tea.

“Technology is playing an increasingly significant role in our stores thanks to Henderson Technology harnessing improvements for the in-store experience, delivering a strong year for the company. Over 95 percent of stores in the Group now run our EDGEPoS scanning system, and the launch of self-checkouts has gained widespread industry interest. The team were also delighted that EdgePoS won ‘Retailing Technology of the Year’ at the National Technology Awards.

“Overall, as we entered the final quarter last year, Group sales increased 12.7 percent on 2017 – a tremendous performance, with even further growth, development and acquisitions on the horizon for 2019.”

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