Investing in training has proved to be a recipe for success for Aberness Foods ­ winner of this year's John Sainsbury 1990 Award at the IGD Food Industry Awards. The Mace wholesaler for Scotland beat off stiff competition from Sainsbury, Princes Foods, Kraft Foods and United Norwest Co-op to win the award for staff training and development. And Aberness Foods did so, says IGD, because of the way "it has made its training policy an integral part of life in every part of the company". The award citation adds: "Training is regarded as a key requirement for ongoing growth. "Employees are now the central focus of the business and their improved customer relations skills result in improved standards, satisfied customers and increased sales." Aberness started working on its Train for Gain initiative about 18 months ago after the appointment of Lorraine Sinclair as HR and development officer. The training, which has been implemented over the past year, covers every aspect of modern c-store retailing, from the operational side of the business to coaching front line members of staff in how to deal with aggressive customers. Underpinning the programme is the idea that better trained staff provide better service which in turn encourages customers to come back to the store. What's also interesting is that the programme has been applied across the three strands of the Aberness business: its distribution operation, its company owned stores division, and the independent stores its supplies. One of those to benefit is Adrian Kindness, who runs a store in New Deer, Aberdeenshire, and who was one of the first Mace retailers in Scotland to achieve Investor in People status. He says: "Staff are at the frontline and have a major impact on customers and therefore on the business. "A structured training programme is good for staff morale, encourages teamwork and involvement in the overall running of the store. "We have a low staff turnover and a happy workforce ­ which in turn creates satisfied customers and a successful business." {{PEOPLE MOVES }}