For crown and gown Jacksons in Hull stole the show at the Top Shop Convenience Store awards and followed the victory with a second coup. Elaine Watson reports As soon as the results of the Top Shop Convenience Store of the Year awards were announced in November, Jacksons business development manager Mike Igoe set about finding the biggest banner in Hull to make the most of the advertising opportunity after scooping top prize. Weeks later, the Hull-based c-store chain scored a second marketing coup when the Princess Royal visited the Princes Avenue store to commemorate the chain's 150th anniversary. Jacksons is pumping £5.5m into its store portfolio during the next two years to fund a radical refurbishment programme. Princes Avenue is one of the oldest stores in the portfolio, and one of the busiest, says Igoe. Situated in student territory, with two universities within half a mile, Princes Avenue is surrounded by terraced housing and hoards of students providing a ready-made market for lager, snack food and videos. Several large businesses provide plenty of passing traffic in the day, while staff on nightshift at the nearby hospital shop in the early hours of the morning on the way home. Cynics might argue that any half decent c-store could turn over £50,000 a week if it has a steady stream of punters passing its doors. But the impressive thing about this store is that it still turns over this amount of cash after Asda and Tesco set up shop around the corner. Store manager Nick Simpson admits he was prepared for the worst when the big boys invaded his territory. "We lost a bit of trade when Tesco arrived, but we've got it all back now. We're monitoring Asda closely, but so far we've not seen any downturn in trade. Rather than try to do everything, we concentrate on big sellers like beer, snacks and chilled, and cut down on things like petfood and sauces and pickles." In addition to a strong fresh and core grocery offer, Princes Avenue has a full complement of services, with a Euronet ATM, payphone, video box office, a Paypoint utility payment machine and a lottery terminal. But the real hook is the booze. All single cans and bottles are chilled in wall to wall refrigerators and prices are kept very keen. "Jacksons is very aggressive in off licence," says trading director Richard Lancaster. "On multipacks of beer we offer comparable, if not better prices than the multiples." Wine expert Patricia Green has been working with the chain to make its wine racks easy to shop and to encourage regular tipplers to trade up. Each wine has briefing notes to demystify the category for the shopper and educate the uninitiated, according to Lancaster. "Our wine range is far more imaginative than that of the average c-store." Jacksons has recently set up a wine of the month initiative to promote two or three selected wines instore and has secured reductions from suppliers to fund the scheme. Beer and snacks are merchandised together at the back of the store to encourage customers to pick up some munchies with their cans as they make their way to the till. The walls behind the counter are adorned with drawings of Princess Anne doing the weekly shop from pupils at nearby Thoresby School, which has close links with the chain. Store manager Nick Simpson gets cash each year from head office to spend on community projects, which can involve anything from supplying food for local events to raising cash to replace a customer's bike stolen from outside the store. Fixtures and fittings - Hours: open 24 hours, seven days a week - Staff: 46 (38 part-time) - Checkouts: three - Size: 1,800sq ft - Services: lottery terminal, Paypoint, ATM, payphone, photocopying {{SPOTLIGHT }}