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'Spar with a bar' in Scourie 'amazed' to win Scotland-wide prize as best new store


By Niall Harkiss

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Owners of a recently opened convenience shop in north-west Sutherland were 'amazed' to have won the Best New Store of the Year prize at this year's Scottish Grocer Federation awards.

The Spar Scourie team at the awards ceremony. Business partners Innes MacDonald and Andy Mackenzie are third and fourth left while Andy’s grandson Charlie Macrae, who works in the shop, is holding the award. Sam Urquhart, second left, is shop manager. Picture: Scottish Grocer Awards
The Spar Scourie team at the awards ceremony. Business partners Innes MacDonald and Andy Mackenzie are third and fourth left while Andy’s grandson Charlie Macrae, who works in the shop, is holding the award. Sam Urquhart, second left, is shop manager. Picture: Scottish Grocer Awards

At a glittering annual ceremony, hosted by Scottish Grocer & Convenience Retailer magazine at the Hilton Glasgow, the Scourie-based Spar, run by Innes and Mairi Macdonald, beat off stiff competition to pick up the gong from comic actress and awards host Elaine C Smith and Scottish Grocer sales director Amy Knox.

Earlier in the year, the magazine and independent judges had toured the country visiting several new convenience stores.

The Best New Store Award celebrates entrepreneurship and the judges were looking for smart designs and a strong store concept achieved through collaboration with others, fresh ideas and evidence that goals have paid off.

The judges’ citation said: “Despite only opening in May this year, Spar Scourie has managed to establish itself as a strong new addition to the convenience channel.

“Found in a caravan park in the coastal village, the retailers at this store have helped to bring a new life into the area, with locals noting that they have decided against moving away from Scourie thanks, in part, to the store.

“Offering a fully licensed bar as well as a range of hot food to go with dinner options, this is a Spar store that can provide something unique for everyone who passes through the village.”

The Macdonalds opened their new Spar store in the north-west Sutherland village on May 3 this year.

Also the occupants of the Anchorage building – which was previously a restaurant and bar – the couple say their store, located within Scourie campsite, has become affectionately known as the ‘Spar with a bar'.

Mr Macdonald said: "At the awards we were sitting at a table with the other shortlisted stores such as the Premier Whitehills, Banffshire, a store that was converted from a hotel into a shop and café complete with its own kitchen and chef and Nisa Local, Hope Street, Glasgow, the 10th in their chain of Stores.

"We honestly thought, after looking at the other stores, one with a chain of 10 and the other having spent over £1million, that our little village 'Spar with a Bar' had no chance. When Elaine C Smith announced us as the winner we couldn’t believe it, and still can’t!

"It means everything to us to have Scourie recognised as having a great store. We had a staff party a couple of weeks after the awards to reward the effort put in by everyone involved in our business.

"Without the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff we wouldn’t have got the business off the ground. From a standing start with almost no experience they’ve been nothing short of incredible.

"Our shop only opened in May this year and has been extremely busy all summer. We were amazed and delighted to have won as we were up against stiff competition from stores across Scotland."


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