Leading lights

Above and Beyond Awards winners

SLR’s first-ever Above and Beyond Awards shone a light on local retailing’s many unsung heroes.

By Gaelle Walker

The vital role that local stores and their heroic employees play in their communities was well and truly celebrated at SLR’s inaugural Above and Beyond Awards held in Glasgow on 13 March.

From energetic 18-year-olds to inspiring 80-year-olds, the awards toasted the extraordinary efforts of employees of all ages – and from stores in all locations from remote coastal hamlets to bustling city centres.

From social media savants to life-saving managers, daring delivery drivers and caring community champions, 2024’s first crop of extraordinary winners demonstrated an incredibly diverse array of skills, with each and every one going well above and beyond the call of duty and showing exactly why this industry is so special.

Independent Store Colleague, supported by Mondelez International

Mondelez logo

Tracey Doran, Supervisor, Pinkie Farm, Musselburgh

Tracey Doran

Pinkie Farm’s longest-serving employee Tracey Doran blew the judges away with her first-class customer service and sales expertise, especially in the bakery category where she has helped to drive a significant sales increase by bringing in new products, spearheading sampling campaigns and engaging positively with customers.

From Halloween to Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter, Tracey also takes the lead on countless seasonal, charitable and community initiatives – often in her own time.

Kim Henderson, Manager, Racetrack Rutherglen (Premier)

Kim Henderson

Kim describes work as her “happy place” and despite her many managerial responsibilities, she always has time for her customers, many of whom she has built very close bonds with.

She regularly goes above and beyond, carrying heavy bags home for some and shopping personally for others. But it’s not just locals who get Kim’s support. Just a few months ago she came to the rescue of an elderly lady who suffered from a flat tyre while visiting the area. Kim sat her down, gave her a cup of tea and called a local garage to help fix the problem before sending her safely on her way.

Snehal Magadum, Manager, Girish’s Premier, Barmulloch

Snehal Magadum

24-year-old Snehal’s rise in retail has been nothing short of meteoric! She joined the team as a sales assistant with no retail experience and within six months became a team leader and store manager just six months after that. In that short space of time, she has taken on responsibility for every aspect of the store and driven the implementation of numerous new systems that help it to operate more efficiently. Last year, before she went on holiday she completed a full store stock count and even set up an auto ordering system so that orders could be placed with ease in her absence.

Elaine McCann, Manager, Watson’s Grocers, Moniaive

Elaine McCann

Engaging with the local community is critical for every store but especially for stores in remote villages like Moniaive – and that’s something that Elaine McCann knows all too well. Elaine has made a huge impact on the local community in the 10 years that she has managed Watson’s and forged incredibly close bonds with many customers in that time. Those close connections recently helped her spot that a local customer was unwell and led to him receiving medical attention. This January, Elaine also organised a free disco for local children. More than 70 kids attended, and all were treated to a meal and gift.

Sophie Skelton, Supervisor, Aramark Leuchars

Sophie Skelton

Working in retail can be challenging at times – but the challenges that Sophie Skelton faces on a day-to-day basis are incredibly unique.

Sophie’s store sits behind the wire on the Leuchars military base and as a military spouse herself, she has a deep understanding of the challenges and issues that many of her customers face.

Over the last four years Sophie has worked to build meaningful relationships with many of these customers, never forgetting a birthday or a leave pass, and always on hand for a friendly chat or just to listen. With most of her customers living as well as working on the base, Sophie also strives to keep the store’s offer fresh and exciting by updating the range with new products as often as possible. Thanks to Sophie’s efforts, Aramark Leuchars is a truly welcoming and safe space for all.

Company-Owned Store Colleague of the Year, supported by CJ Lang & Son

Spar CJ Lang logo

Claire Fleming, Manager, Spar Portland Street, Troon

Claire Flemming

Claire’s efforts to support her local shoppers are nothing short of exceptional. In the two years that she’s managed Spar Portland Street, she’s transformed it into a thriving community-hub that is treasured by local people. Her deep personal care for local shoppers sees her cook regular meals for some and even do the washing for others. She’s also helped to secure in-home care for vulnerable customers and attended hospital appointments with lonely and nervous shoppers. Claire is also an inspiring team leader and with the help of a motivated and loyal team, Spar Portland Street also engages in a variety of fun seasonal events, national charity initiatives and local good causes. Thanks to Claire’s, efforts loyalty, footfall and sales at Spar Portland Street have also never been higher – with sales up just under 10% year on year.

Bryan Gibson, Manager, Spar Barnchurch Road, Culloden

Bryan Gibson

There are not many managers who choose to spend hours working on the tills or mopping the floors, but Bryan is a manager who loves to lead by example. He’s transformed the fortunes of Spar Barnchurch Road since joining two years ago, with the store now one of the best performers in the region.

His approachable, hands-on style has created a happy and motivated in-store team, while in-store standards have hit new heights. He’s also built very strong personal relationships with many of his local customers and regularly carries out personal deliveries for elderly or sick customers. He’s also forged a valuable new link with the local school, helping to support numerous initiatives.

Kerry Ritchie, Manager, Spar Bighty Avenue, Glenrothes

Kerry Ritchie

Born and bred in Glenrothes, Kerry’s knowledge and understanding of her community is second to none and she stops at nothing to ensure that local needs are met. Her motivation and passion have seen Kerry secure head office funding towards numerous local initiatives over the years, including a large donation to the local Friendship Cabin earlier this year.

Kerry’s fun and engaging managerial style also makes the store a great place to work – especially at Christmas, with Spar Bighty Avenue having won four of the company’s ‘12 Days of Christmas’ store challenges in 2023.

Tanya Wilson, Manager, Spar Eastriggs

Tanya Wilson

How many store managers can say they’ve filled not one but two huge books with newspaper clipping of all their store’s incredible community work? Tanya Wilson can! Tanya has been the manager of Spar Eastriggs for more than 20 years and has worked tirelessly to organise successful community events, in-store activities and fundraising initiatives over that time. Last Christmas she and the team organised a party for local nursery children, including games, food, prizes, presents from Santa and even the chance to meet exotic animals. It was so wonderful that the kids are still talking about it today.

Up & Coming Star, supported by CCEP

CCEP logo

Chelsea Dunlop, Supervisor, Spar Boswell Park

Despite only being 20, it’s clear that Chelsea is on track for a really successful career in retail.

She only joined the store 14 months ago but has already made a big impact on staff morale, customer relations and in-store operations in that time. Her kind and caring nature has made her a big hit with local shoppers and teammates alike.

However, don’t be fooled by her sweet exterior because it hides a steely core. Chelsea is also brilliant at defusing challenging situations that can arise in her late-night store.

She also makes it her business to understand back-office operations and recently impressed a group of visiting company directors with her knowledge when she stepped up to cover a meeting in her manager’s absence.

Charlie MacRae, Sales Assistant, Spar Scourie

Charlie MacRae

Customers and colleagues alike describe 18-year-old Charlie as a ‘human dynamo’ and it’s easy to see why!

From serving customers to ordering stock, managing the store’s social media and even manning the on-site bar, Charlie does it all, and always with a smile. He’s also the store’s best pizza maker and has a record of 91 in one night!

His drive, enthusiasm and caring spirit has seen him become totally invaluable, not only to his store but also to his local community for whom he regularly goes above and beyond – shovelling snow, making deliveries, sourcing logs and much more! He also had the initiative to introduce a new fishing range to the store, which is proving to be a good footfall and sales driver.

Waseem Sadiq, Retail Accounts Manager, Spar Renfrew

Waseem Sadiq

Waseem’s thirst for innovation and passion for processes are helping him to open up fresh opportunities for his family-owned business.

His work to develop the store’s vape category has already yielded extraordinary results, with sales now cresting £30,000 a month and growing.

He’s also achieved great success with the store’s online delivery service and is helping to drive significant efficiencies with the implementation of numerous new back-office systems.

Sophie Williams, Assistant Manager, Broadway Convenience Store, Edinburgh

Sophie Williams

How many 24-year-olds can say they’ve addressed not just the SGF annual conference but parliament too? Sophie Williams can! She’s only 24 but the third-generation retailer is already making big waves in the convenience sector.

Her innovative approach to social media is not only taking the store’s customer engagement to a whole new a level – it’s also attracting widespread industry acclaim and demonstrating just how powerful social media can be when done right.

Along with becoming the UK’s first retail influencer, another of Sophie’s key aims is to inspire a future generation of retailers and prove that retail can be a successful and fulfilling career path for women.

Sophie’s impact is also being felt on the shop floor where she’s universally loved by her customers, for whom she regularly goes above and beyond. In the last two years Sophie and the team at Broadway Convenience Store have raised a total of £18,000 for two local families who had lost loved ones to cancer.

She’s also been known to drive local shoppers to appointments and always has time for her elderly shoppers, many of whom come in specifically to talk with her.

Long Service Award, supported by Cadbury

Cadbury: yours for 200 years

Alison Lennon, Manager, Day Today, Shotts

Alison Lennon

Colleagues and customers alike describe Alison as a “superstar” and it’s easy to see why.

Alison has worked in her store for more than 25 years and now has full managerial responsibility – a fact which gives the owners huge peace of mind.

With Alison at the helm, Day Today Shotts is always stocked, ranged and run at its best –helping to ensure that local needs are not just met but exceeded.

As a local lady Alison’s deep personal understanding of the needs and habits of her customers is also second to none. She knows everyone and counts many shoppers as friends – always on hand to help a shopper in need or provide a listening ear.

Johnny Stephen, Delivery driver and handyman, Premier Whitehills, Banff

John Stephen

The lengths that Johnny Stephen goes to when it comes to supporting local shoppers are extraordinary by any standards but when you consider that he is almost 80, they are nothing short of heroic.

From paper boy to delivery driver, store handyman and waste management, Johnny does it all at Premier Whitehills and he does it six days a week, never missing a shift.

His efforts to deliver essential goods and services to local homes, remote rural addresses and the many fishing boats along the coast are a literal lifeline. Whatever the weather, shoppers know that they can rely on Johnny and his famous yellow van to supply them with what they need.

Given his efforts, it’s hardly surprising that Johnny has become a real local legend – he’s even had poems written about him and portraits painted!

Yvonne Wilson, Manager, Spar Logan Drive, Troon

Yvonne Wilson

Yvonne has worked in Spar stores for 31 years and “contributed hugely” to the success of numerous stores in that time, achieving sales increases of more than 40% in some stores.

Her superpower is her ability to build strong, happy and engaged teams – who are motivated to work together and drive success.

“I’m a big believer in giving staff responsibility, it’s really motivating for them, and all my staff are trained in supervisor duties and can do important tasks such as cashing up and locking the store,” she says.

She’s also incredibly approachable, a fact that prompts many of her team members to also seek her out for help and advice on personal issues. She’s managed Spar Logan Drive for just over five years now, helping the store to hit new heights in that time. Customers describe Spar Logan Drive as a warm and friendly store that makes them smile – just like Yvonne.

Astonishing Act, supported by Hovis

Usman Bashir, Owner, Day Today, Saracen

Usman Bashir

Usman has had a transformative effect on this store and the local community since he took over four years ago – focusing a huge amount of time and energy into meeting the needs of his customers and in particular local children.

Usman went well and truly above and beyond last Christmas, when he organised a community celebration the likes of which had never been seen before.

Local children were treated to a free winter wonderland outside the store, complete with a visit from Father Christmas and free entertainment and refreshments. He even managed to get real reindeer and alpaca for children to pet. Many of these kids have never even left Glasgow let alone stroked an alpaca – and the magical event is still being talked about today.

Claire Fleming, Manager, Spar Portland Street, Troon

Claire Fleming

Claire spearheaded an extraordinary effort to better support the needs of local elderly shoppers when she set about to make Spar Portland Street dementia friendly.

Thanks to Claire, the store has now forged strong links with all local care homes and a number of individual carers – allowing her to quickly access help for those shoppers who may need it.

All store staff have also received specific dementia-friendly training and know how best to support customers when shopping in-store.

Claire’s incredible efforts have also seen her secure additional head office funding for a refurbishment of Troon’s sunken garden – a nostalgia filled space that’s cherished by the whole community and especially its elderly customers and those with dementia.

Alison Lennon, Manager, Day Today, Shotts

Alison Lennon

Alison’s Astonishing Act epitomises exactly what it means to go above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks to her unrivalled local knowledge, Alison was quick to notice when one of her regular elderly customers didn’t show up at the store for his daily paper.

One hour later, when he had still failed to arrive, Alison took it upon herself to visit his home and check on him.

Her concern proved well-founded, because the gentleman had had an accident and was stuck in a cold bath, where he’d been for hours, unable to call for help.

Alison alerted the emergency services who then had to knock the door down to gain access. Alison’s quick thinking and close bond with her local customers led to the man being rescued – potentially saving his life in the process.

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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.