A good independent retailer delivers great service to the local community while growing the business through strong corporate values and a clear strategy. Our winner, Tates, certainly ticks all these boxes.
The stores division of Spar wholesaler AF Blakemore is an extremely professional retail group with a strong commitment to running shops that provide local people with access to vital services such as post offices.
Number two in The Grocer's Top 50 annual listing of Britain's biggest and best independent retail chains, Tates has 203 stores and sales of £206m - a year-on-year growth of 6.7%.
It's thanks to organic growth and acquisitions that the top line keeps moving in a difficult market. Tates is also commited to running some great HR initiatives that bigger retail companies would struggle to emulate.
In the past year, Tates has opened four new post offices, taking the number to 53 across its estate. It also invested £26k in an over-the-counter currency service, resulting in a 440% rise in currency sales to £2.7m. Customers benefit as more than two-thirds of Tates' post offices now offer currency. In 2005, the company received the National Post Office Partner of the Year award.
Tates has also invested heavily in hot and cold food to go at 89 stores, with year-on-year growth of 27%. And against a sector average of 4%, Tates has seen a year-on-year uplift in fresh produce sales of 15% by establishing a quality-first culture throughout the business.
Entries to this award are open only to those privately-owned companies appearing on The Grocer Top 50 list. Runners-up were Filco, a business that is clearly passionate about what it does, and Smile, which has successfully developed a convenience retail brand from scratch in an extremely small timeframe.