The Fed Awards 2023 was held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London on Tuesday, January 24. The star-studded evening was the first since COVID-19, allowing members to come together and celebrate achievements, with 13 independent retailers picking up trophies.
With special thanks to business partners of the Fed for sponsoring individual awards, the evening host BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Muchetty, dinner entertainment, and the Royal Lancaster Hotel for making the Fed Awards 2023 an evening to remember!
Member of the Year
Shahid Razzaq, Blantyre, Scotland
Sponsored by Booker Wholesale
National President Jason Birks said: “What singles Mo out for this award is the care that he has shown – not just for other members but for those in his community.
“And for that he enjoys the highest regard from his customers, from our membership and from the political community – especially in Scotland where he is currently extremely active in ensuring a smooth introduction for DRS.
“A true and committed Federation member, he has justly earned a reputation as someone that any member can approach for help and advice, and this is always given willingly.”
Store of the Year
Casey’s, Roscommon, Republic of Ireland
Sponsored by Booker Wholesale
National President Jason Birks created this new award and was in no doubt who the winner should be.
He said: “I have enjoyed visiting the various districts to chat about issues affecting members and on some of these trips I have had time to make some store visits.
“In short, Jim Casey thoroughly embraces the ethos of being an independent retailer. I decided that he deserved recognition for displaying excellence and ingenuity across all retail disciplines.”
Independent Convenience Retailer of the Year
Ijaz Ahmed, Falcon Food Express, Bethnal Green, London
Sponsored by JTI
Ijaz has worked at the store in Bethnal Green Road for nearly 30 years, and has owned it for the last 20, building up a varied and loyal customer base.
He said: “Some of my customers have grown old with me and some have grown from school children to young adults and still come to the store.
“The ones who were younger and are now young adults call me “uncle” out of respect, which is very rewarding for me. I feel honoured by the respect that not only the customers but the community as a whole has given me.”
Symbol Convenience Retailer of the Year
Mandeep Khaira, Singh’s Premier, Sheffield
Sponsored by Scandinavian Tobacco Group
Mandeep’s store is in the heart of a housing estate and offers the local community a one-stop-shop for a range of products, including premium drinks and slushes, American sweets and an extensive fresh range.
“My staff are trained fully throughout the store and each individual staff member undertakes their own tasks confidently and efficiently, which allows me to focus on the customer more and where I can take my business next to bring better value and service for all who use my store.”
Collectables Retailer of the Year
Andrew Howell, Loch Lomond News, Balloch
Sponsored by Topps
Andrew said: “I believe our sales are higher than that of most newsagents and convenience stores due to the wide range of collectables we sell, our standards of display and our determination not to be out of stock on any lines if we can help it.
“To ensure we carry the complete range of each collectable series and to help avoid out of stocks, we don’t rely solely on our news wholesaler. We use companies such as Click and Asmodee to ensure 100 per cent availability for the full sales period of each collection.”
Responsible Retailer of the Year
Bay Bashir, Belle Vue Stores, Middlesbrough
Sponsored by Camelot
Belle Vue Stores offers a wide range of age-restricted products, and Bay is acutely aware of the importance of selling these products responsibly in order to protect his staff and local community.
He said: “Being a responsible retailer is a crucial aspect of the day to day running of any store. Without dedicated and correctly trained staff, the potential risks for not only the store but its community are immense. It is for this reason that we dedicate so much time into the correct training and age awareness initiatives.”
Food to Go Retailer of the Year
Bradley’s Supermarket, Loughborough
Sponsored by iSqueeze
All Bradley’s products are made in-store using local ingredients. It has two purpose-built kitchens at the rear of the store where all hot and cold food is prepared, including sandwich fillings, sausage rolls, pasties, wraps, cakes and a recently launched range of pizzas.
This extensive food to go offering is promoted on the store’s website and via social media. In return, the store is seeing excellent sales growth and has a loyal customer base, making it a worthy winner in the food to go category.
Newsagent of the Year
David Robertson, J P Pozzi Ltd, Buckie
Sponsored by Menzies
By rationalising his newspaper and magazine offering to focus on best-selling titles, David has bolstered his in-store and delivery sales.
David said: “We took the brave decision that less was more and have simplified both our newspaper and magazine offering, focusing on specific volume titles and highlighting our keep / delivery service for titles that are more obscure.
“Our delivery service has continued to evolve over the last several years. We operate within the current town boundaries of Buckie but have swallowed up deliveries in Portgordon, Portessie, Cullen and the outlying country areas.”
Best Use of Technology
Dee Sedani, One Stop, Stoke on Trent
Sponsored by BAT
This is another new category introduced this year, and Dee’s investment in technology to protect his staff, customers and store, as well as improve productivity, made him a worthy winner.
For Dee, the safety of his staff and customers is paramount, and since taking over his latest store in June last year he has invested £25,000 into technology, including facial recognition.
He said: “We have an internal piece of software called Retail Guardian that controls 90 per cent of the day to day running of the business.
“All staff are issued with headsets so the team can keep in touch with each other while on the shop floor or in the store’s back room.”
News Deliverer of the Year
Ella Gregory, Todmorden News, Todmorden
Sponsored by Daily Mail
Ella has delivered newspapers and magazines for the store for three years, seven days a week, without a single day of absence, whilst studying at Burnley College.
Store owner Muntazir Dipoti said: “She always arrives on time and is great with the customers. She has a very happy personality and is always willing to take on additional news rounds and cover for members of staff who are absent.
“She covers holidays and is always willing to help in the shop, often taking on extra work at short notice. Ella helps put the news rounds together for the eight news deliverers in the shop and she is very hardworking.”
During the pandemic, Ella worked every day to ensure customers received their newspapers and magazines on time. She never missed a day, despite the weather conditions of snow and flooding.
Sustainable Retailer of the Year
Vine & Co, Church Stretton, Shropshire
Sponsored by Smiths News
Store owner John Vine said: “Being sustainable is very important to us. We strive to ensure that the fresh products in our store are all provided by local suppliers. Not only does this help the local economy but it also reduces the number of food miles and is better for the environment.
One of the biggest innovations introduced by Vine & Co is a milk vending machine. The milk is supplied by a farm just four miles from the shop and customers fill their own glass bottles from the machine.
“We promote sustainability and believe that shopping local is really important. I honestly believe shopping local is the only way to go now. We’ve all got to try and support each other.”
Customer Service Retailer of the Year
Peter Steemers, Steemers O’Leary, Bunclody, Co. Wexford
Sponsored by PayPoint
The store has everything from specialist magazines and a bean to cup coffee machine, to local products such as flour, Wexford strawberries with ice cream or cream and milk shakes.
It also has a business services section where customers can send emails and use a photocopying machine.
Peter said: “Service is what me and the team pride ourselves on. We are the heart of the community and know everyone. Even passing trade, we make them feel special, so hopefully they will shop again on their travels.
“Customer service distinguishes me from the local competitors and supermarkets. I do not believe in the statement ‘the customer is always right’ but I do believe in ‘they pay our wages’.”
Trudy Davies, Woosnam and Davies News, Llanidloes, Powys
Sponsored by Reach
The list of local groups and national organisations that Trudy and her team have helped over the years is endless.
They demonstrate commitment to every facet of the community, day in, day out, with an exhaustive range of activities and initiatives.
Support is given to everyone and everything, from Dementia Friends to the Dogs Trust and from the local Carnival Committee to a Community Fridge, while the installation of defibrillators and bleed kits are major contributions to care and safety in the area.
Further details of the Fed Awards 2023 are in the March edition of the Fed magazine. A final congratulations to all finalists and winners of the evening.