Independent Achievers Academy: The best of the best

Emma Wilson talks to some of the winners of this year’s Independent Achievers Academy.

Almost a year ago to the day, 11 Premier stores were named in the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) Top 100 list. In 2014, this number has increased to 25 – two of which were named as category winners at last week’s IAA Gala Dinner.


IAA Fast Facts
  • New blood: 41% of entrants to the IAA in 2014 were new to the Academy
  • Symbols of success: 81% of the IAA Top 100 2014 are symbol group members
  • Adding on profit: Supervalu Moira added £8,000 per week in additional sales after winning the IAA Best Shop Award in 2013.


The IAA, which is run by Better Wholesaling publisher Newtrade, has been hailed by wholesalers as boosting not just their customers, but the supply chain as a whole.

“Since I started off in retailing two years ago, what I’ve found really helpful are Booker resources, used alongside IAA advice such as the online planograms and retailer profiles,” said the winner of the Service to the Community award, Sophie Towers of Premier Hillingdon Convenience Store. “They’ve been really helpful in getting me to where I am now.”

What this success has meant for Booker, which has supported the Academy since 2008, is an increasing number of stores accessing and benefiting from IAA advice, and being recognised in the awards.

Dan Marsden, retail marketing and support manager at Booker Wholesale, said: “Retailers who journey through the IAA process build upon their understanding of the key retailing principles and their impact on profits. What sets successful retailers apart is that they go the extra mile. This not only benefits their customers but the supply chain as a whole.”

Another award winner, Samantha Coldbeck, who runs Wharfedale Premier in Hull with partner Mark, paid tribute to the IAA for helping her business to garner positive attention both from customers and in the local papers.

In total, more than 40 regional print titles featured coverage of the development and success retailers achieved with the IAA. This is a publicity coup for the symbol operations of the wholesalers involved with the IAA and is a sign that the independent channel is a serious challenger to the multiples.

Sponsorship isn’t the only way symbol groups and wholesalers have been getting involved and gaining recognition. After launching a campaign to get its best stores involved, Landmark’s symbol group Lifestyle Express saw its first ever winner this year.

Bay Bashir, of BelleVue Convenience Lifestyle Express in Middlesbrough, was recognised in the Responsible Retailing category. He said: “The IAA has improved my sales in two ways. Firstly, the assessment helped me to evaluate and improve my business. Secondly, customers have been really interested in our success and we’ve seen more people in the store.”

Retailers have also seen their bottom lines improve. Last year’s winner of the prestigious Best Shop award – Eddie Poole of SuperValu Moira – has seen his turnover rise by £8,000 per week since his win.

This year’s top award went to Londis Southwater and Post Office, in Horsham. Shop owner Ramesh Shingadia said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have received such prestigious recognition. We have worked hard to develop our business over the past few years and the awards we have received are a true testament to all our hard work.

“Our industry is dynamic and constantly changing but we’re always looking to excel through networking with other stores and knowing the latest movements in our industry.

“The Independent Achievers Academy gave us a really good chance to review the whole business, reassess our priorities and come up with new ideas.

“We’re now looking to expand, with another store opening in January.”

See who all the winners were on the IAA website


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