Up & Coming Stars on tour

Up & Coming stars

The shortlisted finalists for the Up & Coming Star category at the recent SLR Above & Beyond Awards 2024 visited Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ East Kilbride site last month for a fascinating VIP insider’s tour of the hugely impressive facility.

By Antony Begley

SLR Above & Beyond Awards 2024

Up And Coming Stars

  • Chelsea Dunlop | Supervisor, Spar Boswell Park
  • Charlie MacRae | Sales Assistant, Spar, Scourie
  • Waseem Sadiq | Accounts Manager, Spar Renfrew
  • Sophie Williams | Assistant Manager, Broadway Convenience Store, Edinburgh

Held for the first time in March this year, the inaugural SLR Above and Beyond Awards were created with one simple goal in mind: to recognise and reward the people behind this remarkable convenience retailing industry. There are many awards programmes that recognise the stores and the businesses that drive this sector, but these new awards were designed to specifically shine a light on the people that make our sector so special.

We all know that convenience stores are the beating heart of communities right across Scotland, helping to forge, support and promote valuable connections that have a meaningful impact on local lives.

But central to this power are the people behind the counter, on the shop floor and in the back office and stockroom, who strive day in and day out, to make a positive difference to their colleagues, their stores and their communities.

Rewarding trip

As well as recognising their unbelievable achievements, we also aim to reward them and, working with one of our progressive partners for the awards, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), we were delighted to host all of the shortlisted finalists for the Up & Coming Star category at CCEP’s impressive facility in East Kilbride last month.

Or, at least, that was the plan. As luck would have it, one of our finalists – Charlie MacRae of Spar Scourie – was unfortunately unable to join us on the day because the extreme weather of the last few weeks intervened, ferry services were cancelled and Charlie couldn’t make it.

We were, however, joined by Chelsea Dunlop of Spar Boswell Park, Sophie Williams of Broadway Convenience Store in Edinburgh and Waseem Sadiq of Spar Renfrew – and a more passionate and inspiring group of young retailers you’re never likely to meet.

Our group of Up & Coming Stars was warmly welcomed by CCEP’s Site Director Allan French, Senior External Communications Manager Amy Burgess and Wholesale Sales Manager Rab Kelly.

As luck would have it, our visit to East Kilbride fell in the same month French and his team were celebrating the 60th anniversary of the site, another remarkable achievement, particularly given the general collapse of the wider manufacturing industry in the west of Scotland over that period.

The visit opened with a presentation given by French to introduce the group to the CCEP East Kilbride facility. We learned that the site was acquired in 1964 and was originally a Schweppes factory. These days, it produces a phenomenal 36 million cases of product a year and employs around 230 people, making it one of the largest single employers in the area.

East Kilbride is one of five CCEP bottling sites in GB and French said the company is “proud to say that 97% of everything that CCEP sells in the UK is manufactured in the UK”.  Another of East Kilbride’s many claims to fame is that it was the first site in the UK to produce attached cap bottles that help improve recycling efficiency.

On tour

Following the welcome presentation, the group donned their hair nets, coveralls, safety glasses and protective boots to be given a guided tour of the immense and high-tech facility, covering every aspect of how it operates.

It was a rare opportunity for the group of Up & Coming Stars to gain a glimpse into a world that not many people get to see.

“It was really, really fascinating,” says Chelsea Dunlop. “I’ve never been in a factory before, certainly not one like this. I drink CCEP products every day so it was amazing to see how it all happens and how the products I and my customers drink actually get made. It’s kind of mind-blowing, the scale and speed of everything.”

Waseem Sadiq was equally impressed: “I knew that facilities like this are high tech and slick these days but I never appreciated just how impressive it all is. The scale and the capacity of the East Kilbride site is just insane. It was genuinely amazing.”

The site made a strong impact on Sophie Williams too, but it was the human side of the business at the facility that landed most strongly with her. “The presentation that Allan French gave us was so interesting,” she comments. “It’s clearly an unbelievably efficient and modern bottling plant but it’s the way that CCEP works with their colleagues that really blew me away. They have so many diversity and inclusion policies in place and seem to work so hard at looking after their team. It just looks like a great place to work and it’s really encouraging to learn how hard they are working at recruiting a really diverse team and treating them well. It was a fantastic day and I really enjoyed it.”

Return the favour

The day ended with a lunch back in the board room and a chance to share learnings and experiences. The Above & Beyond experience doesn’t end there, however. CCEP is intending to send some colleagues into at least one of the shortlisted stores to spend a day on a real shopfloor and have the chance to experience a day at the sharp end in retail for themselves.

That should be equally interesting for the lucky participants who, having spent so much time producing some of Scotland’s favourite soft drinks, will get the chance to see how customers interact with the products and the brands where it matters most.

Our thanks go to Amy Burgess and the team at CCEP for organising the visit and giving our Up & Coming Stars a unique insight into what goes on behind the scenes – and we hope the visit helps our Stars continue on their stellar trajectory in retail.


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

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

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.