by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Eight SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO retailers picked up prestigious awards at the Neighbourhood Retailer (NR) Awards 2023. The winning stores included Creightons of Finaghy, Lynch’s EUROSPAR Greysteel, EUROSPAR Ladas Drive, McCullagh’s SPAR Classic Service Station in Omagh, SPAR Castlederg, ViVO Essentials Ballygowan, ViVO Dromore and EUROSPAR Cullybackey.


Creightons of Finaghy was named Community Store of the Year, a competitive category which recognises a store and their staff who make a real difference to local life.

The judges stated that Creightons “has given details of how their long-term commitment and successful fundraising has established them as an integral part of the local community through a range of initiatives, events and activities designed to support local charities, groups and individuals”.

Lynch’s EUROSPAR in Greysteel was named Newcomer of the Year, bringing their total number of award wins to six in the last two months alone, after success at the Retail Industry Awards and the Forecourt Trader Awards which both recently took place in London.

Judges commented on the “spacious and attractive layout” and “fantastic range of products”. “The value message was clear as was the quality of the fresh offering. Staff were proactive, welcoming and professional,” added the judges.
EUROSPAR Ladas Drive was named Forecourt of the Year (category 1). Judges praised both the forecourt and store, stating they were “immaculately presented in all areas”. They added that the store was “fully stocked and well organised with everything needed for a busy commuter”.

Forecourt of the Year (category 2) was awarded to McCullagh’s SPAR Classic Service Station, the second time the store has picked up this award in consecutive years. It also comes hot on the heels of their recent Forecourt Trader Award for Best Forecourt in Northern Ireland (over 4 million litres per annum).

Of the store, judges commented, “this winner provides a great range of services both on and off the forecourt. The forecourt is well designed for ease of use and the store exceeded expectations in all respects”.
SPAR Castlederg was named Fresh Food Store of the Year. It is the second award for the store’s commitment to fresh and local produce in as many months, after winning Fresh Produce Retailer of the Year, also at the national Retail Industry Awards in London.

Judges in this category were looking for excellence and choice in the food offerings, the best in local produce presented in a convenient and enticing way, along with expertise and knowledge among staff. Judges said of SPAR Castlederg, “from fresh local meat and vegetables to bakery, prepared meals, salads and sauces – the quality and value was outstanding”.

ViVO Essentials Ballygowan was awarded with the Neighbourhood Store of the Year (category 1) title, while ViVO Dromore won Neighbourhood Store of the Year (category 2).

Judges for Category 1 stores looked at all aspects of the customer offering particularly the merchandising, store services and customer care. ViVO Essentials Ballygowan was praised for being “a clean and tidy store”, with the judges noting the “friendly staff” and the “well curated range of merchandise”.

The Neighbourhood Store of the Year (category 2) award recognises convenience throughout the store, layout, presentation, the range of services available and the standard of customer care.

Describing ViVO Dromore as a “stand-out store”, judges said “the range and depth of merchandise was exceptional and staff went out of their way to engage with customers and create good rapport.”

Last but not least, EUROSPAR Cullybackey took home the award for Neighbourhood Store of the Year (category 3). Finalists in this category were judged on all aspects of retail excellence, with account merchandising, promotions, facilities available for customers and the overall customer experience all taken into consideration.

EUROSPAR Cullybackey was praised for meeting all these criteria by the mystery shoppers, “This store has an impressive range of merchandise specialising in local suppliers and producers,” said the judges.

Patrick Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group commented; “It has been an extremely successful awards season for our independent SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO retailers in Northern Ireland. Not only have they swept the board locally, but they have been bringing home trophies from UK-wide ceremonies.

“All our stores have their local communities at their centre and it’s of the utmost importance to our retailers that they provide fresh, locally sourced products and top quality services as well as convenience and value to their shoppers, all while supporting local community groups, charities and sports teams. These retailers go above and beyond, making them unrivalled in all of these areas and we’re proud that they have been recognised for their services.”

Mark McCammond, Retail Director at Henderson Group added, “We’re thrilled to have had another successful year at the NR Awards. Our store teams do outstanding work both instore and throughout their communities, which stands out from their competitors and is appreciated by their loyal shoppers. Congratulations to all the teams.”

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Wendy McMurray (from category sponsor, Imperial Tobacco), Lisa Ballantine from EUROSPAR Ladas Drive and Meagan Green.

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