Tyrone woman picks up top trophy in a blaze of glory at national awards

Michelle Finch of Finch’s SPAR A29, Cookstown has returned home in a blaze of glory after picking up the Trailblazer of the Year award at the UK-wide Retail Industry Awards in London recently.

Michelle and her husband were behind the recent expansions of the store, which has brought a host of new services and products for the local community, with Michelle always coming up with new initiatives to keep the store ahead of their competition.

Well known in the community, Michelle runs her busy bridal and jewellery business locally, and joined the A29 team full time in March last year, using her style, design know-how and contacts to expand the business even further.

Judges were impressed by Michelle’s business expertise saying; “Michelle has brought knowledge on running a business and has led the way by her own style of operation.”

Tym Rees, Suntory Beverage & Food, sponsor of the Retail Industry Awards, presents Michelle Finch of Finch’s SPAR A29 Cookstown with her award for Trailblazer of the Year. Also pictured is awards host Kerry Godliman.

Acknowledging how Michelle has also transformed internal comms and employee engagement, judges said; “Michelle has brought a fresh pair of eyes with a totally different take on customer service and staff training. Staff are rewarded for their efforts which highlights the companionship on show.”

During the pandemic, Michelle saw the opportunity to expand the business, which included bringing an off license to the area – but not just any chilled section for alcohol. Michelle created an off-sales inspired by traditional French wine stores, and drove sales by engaging with her brides to be, personally creating wine lists and drinks options for their weddings with her sommelier contacts through the new section of the business. This drove sales for the store exponentially.

Speaking of her win, Michelle commented; “Over the past year, I have really enjoyed getting my teeth into our family business, creating an even better working environment for our team, and an expanded product portfolio and enhanced level of service for our shoppers in our local community. We go above and beyond, we want to do things differently, and that is what our shoppers have come to expect and what our team is motivated by.

“I was completely overwhelmed to win this award! The past couple of years have been challenging for everyone, and I’m so grateful to have had this project to focus my creativity and build a better business for Finch’s SPAR A29.”

Paddy Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group, says this year was the biggest collective win for SPAR NI and EUROSPAR NI retailers at the Retail Industry Awards so far. “To be able to go to London and see our stores being recognised on a national platform for the excellence they bring to their communities, day in, day out, is fantastic.

“We are incredibly proud of our stores and their teams who are the ultimate competition, not only in their local markets but on a national and international retailing platform. They are consistent in their innovation and service and we send them huge congratulations for bringing home some of the top awards.”

The Retail Industry Award winners were selected by a panel of esteemed and experienced names in the industry. The Awards are a celebration of all that is great about the UK grocery retail sector. The 2022 winners were revealed at a gala ball ceremony at The Brewery in London.

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