Beyond measure

Above and Beyond Awards winners

SLR’s Above and Beyond Awards were designed to celebrate our industry’s heroes – those selfless colleagues who regularly go ‘above and beyond’ to support their communities and stores. Here, we take a closer look at three more of our outstanding 2024 winners.

By Gaelle Walker

Up and Coming Star: Sophie Williams, Premier Broadway Convenience Store, Edinburgh

Sophie Williams

She’s only 24 but third-generation retailer Sophie Williams is already making a mighty mark on her well-known family-owned store and the wider convenience industry.

After all, how many other twentysomethings can say they’ve addressed not just the SGF annual conference but parliament too?

Sophie’s innovative approach to social media management is not only attracting wide-spread industry acclaim, it’s also helping Premier Broadway Convenience Store to engage shoppers on a whole new level. Thanks to Sophie’s efforts, the store now has a following of more than 3,000 on Facebook and 1,300 on TikTok – where her engaging digital content is also helping the store to reach a whole new audience. In fact, one of Sophie’s recent ‘like and share’ videos racked up an incredible 25,000 views!

With stats like those, it’s hardly surprising that Sophie’s digital prowess is also adding up to higher footfall, sales and profits for the 40-year-old business.

Looking ahead, Sophie says that her “ultimate goal” is to become “the UK’s first retail influencer and to engage and inspire a future generation of retailers and especially women.

“I’m determined to highlight that retail can be a hugely successful and fulfilling career choice for women, and social media is a powerful tool for doing just that,” she says.

She’s also working hard to hone her staff mentoring skills with various training courses.

Sophie’s caring nature and effervescent personality also make her a favourite with the store’s local shoppers – especially its many elderly customers – with whom she has forged strong bonds and meaningful relationships.

Always on hand for a friendly chat, to offer a listening ear or a lift to the doctor, Sophie is a true shop-floor superstar.

She’s even been known to take customers who can’t drive to the bingo – and has ended up staying and playing along!

Long Service Award: Johnny Stephen, Premier Whitehills

John Stephen

Supporting the local community is vital for all stores but in a location as remote as Whitehills in Banff the community support offered by people like Johnny Stephen becomes a literal lifeline.

Johnny’s efforts to deliver essential goods and services to local people, remote addresses and the many fishing boats along the coast – are nothing short of heroic and even more so when you consider that he’s recently celebrated his 80th birthday!

From paperboy to delivery driver, general handyman and so much more, Johnny stops at nothing to ensure that the needs of local shoppers are met – and he does it six days a week, come rain or shine!

Store owner Billy Gatt describes Johnny as an “irreplaceable part” of his team and says that he’s never missed a shift or been late to work, even during the challenging pandemic era.

Inspirational Johnny says he was “shocked and honored,” to have won the inaugural Long Service Award.

“I’ve always worked in jobs which involve helping and caring for people and this is no different. It means so much to me and I’ve got no plans to slow down or stop!” he adds.

Given his heroic efforts and inspirational attitude, it’s hardly surprising that Johnny has become a real local legend and greatly loved, central player in Banff’s close-knit community.

Astonishing Act: Alison Lennon, Day Today, Shotts

Alison Lennon

Store manager Alison’s heroic story quite literally reduced the judges to tears. Having worked in her local store for more than 20 years, Alison’s unrivalled knowledge of her local shoppers proved quite literally lifesaving when one of the store’s elderly regulars didn’t turn up for his daily paper one morning.

Spider senses tingling, Alison hotfooted it to the gentleman’s house to check on his welfare. She was right to have been alarmed. The gentleman’s bad leg had given way when he had tried to get out of the bath the night before – and he had been stuck in the cold tub ever since, unable to call for help.

With no key with which to access the house, Alison reassured him through the letterbox before calling the emergency services, who had to knock down the front door to get in.

Her close local bonds and quick thinking led to the gentleman being rescued.

“No one else would have noticed that he was missing for hours more, maybe even days,” Alison says. “I’m used to my regular shoppers coming into the shop at the same time every day. I know them all so well and I know if there’s something not right. I’ll always check on them and make sure they’re okay or if they need help with anything. It’s just what I do.

“The relationship I have with my customers is the best thing about my job. It genuinely means so much and there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

United Wholesale’s symbol development manager Lorraine Macpherson describes Alison as an “absolute superstar” – and we certainly agree.


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This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.