If there’s one thing to take away from the SLR awards this year, it’s the fact that in running the awards for 21 consecutive years, I can confidently say we’ve never seen so much money invested in the sector in a single year.
That’s a massive compliment to each and every store on the shortlist and if you had to tally the money spent in the last 12 months by the stores on the shortlist, you’d easily be heading north of £15m and possibly a lot higher.
It’s not all about money and investment, of course, but you can’t get away from the fact that today’s consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where they spend their money. Their expectations, as a consequence, have never been higher.
It says a lot about our sector that the proceeds of the sales boom that accompanied the pandemic have been reinvested to builder an even stronger sector. That’s the legacy of Covid we hoped for and it’s fantastic to see it being realised.
New Scottish Local Retailer of the Year Billy Gatt managed to account for a whopping £1.6m of the £15m or so I mentioned above and, for my money, it’s a glorious store. And it’s a real retailer’s store. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s a store that the people of Whitehills truly appreciate but it’s also a store that retailers will appreciate even more, especially if they get a behind-the-scenes view of the kitchen and storage areas. It’s one of those stores that only a dyed-in-the-wool retailer could have created. You need to know retail to know how you want a new-build store to look, feel and function.
The amount of time and effort that must have gone into the planning of the layout of the whole entity – the store, the production kitchen, the logistics hub in the middle – must have been almost as enormous as the amount of money required to make it happen.
If you happen to find yourself on the north coast of Aberdeenshire, make a point of dropping in.
Huge congratulations to all of this year’s winners and a massive well done to everyone who made it onto the shortlist too. With the standards of entry so unbelievably high this year, to have even made the shortlist is something to be proud of.
Antony Begley, Publishing Director, SLR