After a series of regional meetings on the importance of retail basics, Spar retailers gathered at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre last week for the annual Spar Australia Trade Show. The conference was themed Simply Retail and focused on key aspects of retail, reducing clutter and the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

According to Spar Australia marketing manager, Rebecca Andrews, this “doesn’t mean Retailers don’t need to be aware, but it’s about putting their focus where it needs to be and ensuring they’re nailing the basics, so to speak”.

In a tough market, the importance of driving sales cannot be understated and the tools Spar has shared with their retailers have been instrumental in the chain’s success so far. The conference provided an opportunity to further retailers’ knowledge and provide the information and assistance needed to take their businesses to the next level.

Fox Sports National Rugby League and combat sports commentator Andy Raymond kicked the Trade Show off at the Welcome Dinner held on the Thursday night.

Dinner set the scene for next couple of days, offering relaxation, networking and some good old-fashioned pampering.

At the suggestion of Spars’s Retail Guild Council Representatives, a series of services and stations provided all attendees with the opportunity for seated shoulder or hand massages, hair and makeup tips and touch-ups, and a fashion stylist who provided fashion tips and advice. With some new season fashion on loan from Myer and some models from Spar, everyone really enjoyed this fun, and educational, session.

Audience participation was encouraged with some great prizes on offer including a Myer cosmetics gift basket and styling session worth $300 plus a $250 Myer Gift Card and a range of beauty services such as hair styling. To participate, guests made fashion accessories at the craft table, which were entered into a ‘Fashions on the Field’ event to select winners later that evening.

In addition Lou Jardin presented loyalty bonuses to qualifying retailers, for the third year these bonuses rewarded Spar branded stores for their loyalty and for assisting Spar’s Independent Retailers to continually improve their stores and develop their offers.

Spar Guild Council Deputy Chair Bob Little then officially welcomed everyone to the 2015 SPAR Australia Trade Show.

On Friday morning  Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic Gold Medallist, Steven Bradbury, addressed the Breakfast Session. Steven shared much of his life story and allowed guests to hold his Olympic medals, inspect his skates and pose for photos with him. Steven’s story amazed delegates with the many trials and tribulations encountered on the road to Olympic glory; including being impaled on a skate – losing four litres of blood and requiring 111 stitches – in Montreal in 1994, to breaking his neck in 2000. Steven’s message truly inspired delegates to never give up and to work hard to achieve their goals.

SPAR trade show

SPAR trade show next payts stand

SPAR trade show frucor stand

SPAR trade show cerebos stand

The commencement of the Trade show followed, with approximately 100 exhibitors in attendance. MC Andy ensured retailers knew what was on offer and hourly prize draws saw lucky retailers enter the Cash Grab Machine with the chance to catch some of the $500 worth of ‘Spar Bucks’ fluttering around them.

The annual SPAR Guild Members Meeting provided a forum to discuss some of the key projects of the brand and was a great way to conclude the day before delegates adjourned for drinks.

Saturday morning saw Andy welcome delegates to the Breakfast Session at which Jim Penman (founder of Jim’s Group of businesses) shared his story and keys to success. Jim started a part-time gardening business while earning his PhD in history at Latrobe University, later launching a full-time mowing business with a $24 investment in 1982. Jim’s Mowing is now the largest franchise chain in Australia and the largest and best-known lawn mowing business in the world – showing just how successful you can be by sticking to the basics of business.

Day two of the trade event saw the orders flow and supplier prizes drawn as the hourly Cash Grab continued. The great mix of exhibitors provided retailers with great product offers including grocery, fresh and general merchandise as well as Spar Plus services. Many of the exhibitors wrote record sales at this event which was pleasing for everyone involved.

SPAR gala dinner

The Trade Show concluded with the annual Gala Awards Dinner celebrating the successes, consistent achievement and performance of Spar Australia retailers over the past year and was attended by over 300 retailers, suppliers, directors, staff and guests. Guest speakers on the night were Spar Australia Managing Director, Lou Jardin, Spar Guild Council Deputy Chair, Bob Little and Spar Australia Chairman, Miles Hedge.

Retailers who have excelled in their businesses were identified and recognised under Spar’s Retail Awards Program, with awards presented by Lou Jardin and Bob Little. Supplier Stand Awards were also presented by Spar’s Australia’s National Merchandise Manager, Colin Dwyer joined Lou Jardin and Bob Little on stage to present these.

SPAR trade show entertainment

SPAR winners $2k

Following presentations, guests danced the night away to entertainment provided by Magic Carpet Ride, pausing only briefly for the major prize draw where a lucky retailer had the chance to win $75,000 in stock for their business. Drawn by Miles Hedge, this year’s winners were Cheryl Painter and Joanne Robson from Spar Coraki. Cheryl & Joanne narrowly missed out on $75,000 credit after narrowing their choice of 30 envelopes down to just two – numbers 3 and 28. By choosing envelope 3, they walked away with $2,000 credit. (Unfortunately if they had picked envelope 28, they would have won the $75,000 credit!).

SPAR Australia looks forward to welcoming everyone back again in 2016 for another outstanding event!

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