SPAR Australia has celebrated its Retail Excellence Awards with SPAR Babinda and SPAR Express Tallebudgera taking out the major categories.

The past 18 months have been challenging, with lockdowns, panic buying, and supply shortages. But SPAR highlights that it has continued to see a record number of stores re-investing in their businesses, mainly through funds received through the SPAR Loyalty Bonus Scheme, which was launched nine years ago.

The opening of the Retail Excellence Awards, which was held virtually, saw $448,000 paid into the Store Development Funds of qualifying retailers. SPAR Australia is committed to rewarding loyalty to its branded stores, and since the inception of the SPAR Loyalty Bonus Scheme, the Store Development Fund has grown to almost $3 million.

The Retail Excellence Awards night is designed to acknowledge the retailers who have partnered with SPAR Australia to drive growth for their businesses, and this year the SPAR Store of the Year winner was SPAR Babinda in Queensland.

Diane and Helen Fantoni, SPAR Babinda

C&I spoke with Helen and Diane Fantoni from SPAR Babinda, who said that it was very exciting and an honour to win such a prestigious award.

“We were so proud to be chosen as an ambassador for SPAR,” they said.

The Fantoni’s told C&I of the challenges they have faced over the past 18 months, first with lockdowns and panic buying brought on by COVID, but then they were also hit with a cyclone, which left them without power for three days.

They explained how these events led to the community really coming together, and with the support of SPAR Head Office, they were able to look after community locals during times where the major chains were struggling to keep their shelves stocked.

“As an independent in a regional area, during cyclone season we tend to have over and above a couple of weeks’ worth of stock on hand. So, when everybody heard that we were well stocked and the chains were empty, we got inundated with a lot of new customers.

“We had luckily invested in a generator, so we were able to continue trading when the power was lost, and it brought the community together.

“Over this time, our area manager, SPAR Head Office, and all of the buyers were so incredibly helpful. We had all of these new customers coming in and the buyers made sure that we always had access to new lines and that we were kept up-to-date and well stocked, despite everything that was happening around us.”

The SPAR Babinda team went above and beyond for their community during the hardest times, facilitating home deliveries for the elderly and making sure the hospital was well stocked with supplies. They also reinvested in their business, expanding their freezer range, and putting in a new hot box for fresh grab and go meals. They also expanded their bakery department.

“We’re always looking at how we can reinvest in the business to continue giving an even better shopping experience,” they say.

“We’re just so passionate about what we do and it’s such an honour to be recognised for all of the hard work that we put in. We’d like to thank the community for all the support that they’ve given us. And we’d like to thank Lou Jardin and SPAR for the recognition.”

The second major award of the night was for the SPAR Express Store of the Year, and this went to SPAR Express Tallebudgera in Queensland.

C&I spoke to owner Jeff Sykes who said that this was something the business had been working towards for a number of years and that it was “an absolute honour” to come away with the award.

“It’s given a real lift to the team and the store and we all feel really justified in the work that we’ve been doing and the standards that we’ve been working to maintain,” said Sykes.

Sykes purchased SPAR Express Tallebudgera only two and a half years ago after his family business of 37 years burnt down.

Since taking over the Tallebudgera store, Sykes says the business has been turned around and he thanks his staff for the hard work they have put in, which has ultimately led to them being named the SPAR Express Store of the Year.

“My manager Shaun Jenkins does a fantastic job,” said Sykes. “He brings a lot of passion and commitment to the industry of retail, and he does a great job of instilling that in his team.

“Getting this recognition from SPAR just shows that the hard work and passionate retail environment that Shaun has created in that store is not going unnoticed. The guys take so much pride in the way they present the store and it’s just vindication in regard to the level and standards that they are setting.

“I’m just really proud of the team and to have them representing us and am looking forward to a future working with all of them.”

Department Award Winners:

  • SPAR Grocery Award – SPAR Babinda
  • SPAR Express Grocery Award – SPAR Express Tallebudgera
  • SPAR Dairy / Freezer Award – SPAR Bourke
  • SPAR Express Dairy / Freezer Award – SPAR Express Lambton (Newcastle)
  • SPAR Fresh Food Award – SPAR Babinda
  • SPAR Express Fresh Food Award – SPAR Express Tallebudgera
  • Food To Go Award – SPAR Express Maryborough

Store Investment Excellence Award Winners:

  • SPAR Express Maryborough
  • SPAR Bourke
  • SPAR Coffs Harbour
  • SPAR Dorrigo
  • SPAR Chevron (Gold Coast)
  • 5 STAR Millaa Millaa
  • SPAR Express Proston
  • SPAR Urunga
  • SPAR Express Terrigal
  • SPAR Halifax
  • SPAR Express Carrington (Newcastle)
  • SPAR Express Oxenford
  • SPAR Winton
  • SPAR Express Gwandalan (Newcastle)
  • SPAR Macleay Island
  • SPAR Express Morpeth
  • SPAR Express Dunwich (Stradbroke Island)
  • SPAR Jandowae
  • SPAR Palmwoods
  • SPAR Jetty Village (Coffs Harbour)
  • SPAR Blackbutt
  • SPAR Lismore

Community & Customer Service Excellence Award:

  • Community & Customer Service Excellence Award 2021 – SPAR Southtown (Toowoomba)

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