Convenience Worldwide: NACS honours Applegreen, M&S, S-Group

The International Convenience Retail Awards for 2016 were presented during the NACS Insight Convenience Summit Europe last week.

Now in its third year, the European summit brings together convenience and fuel-retailing industry professionals from around the world to discuss new ideas and gain new commercial connections. This year’s event kicked off in Stockholm on June 5 and ended on June 11 in Dublin.

At the awards evening in London, Applegreen won the NACS Insight 2016 International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award for its new M1 Lisburn motorway service area in Northern Ireland.

The site is claimed to be a first of its kind, occupying a total floor area of nearly 15,000 sqm and featuring seating for 300. The store is on a busy tourist route from Belfast and, with dedicated bus parking, can easily accommodate fluctuations in customer volume and provide patrons with space and comfort for taking a break and enjoying a variety of food and beverage offers.

For commuters, the site’s upper level is designed as a quiet oasis with comfortable seating, with the Applegreen Lounge area offering meeting spaces and free wi-fi and mobile charging.

Judges agreed that Applegreen’s M1 Lisburn site displayed excellent and effective use of space, as well as a great mix of proprietary and branded food concepts – a combination they said made this location a true travel destination for busy commuters in need of a break.

Comments reflected that Applegreen continued to be true to its brand and had become a leader in convenience retailers.

Marks & Spencer won the 2016 NACS Insight International Convenience Retail Sustainability Award, which recognised M&S’ leadership in development and implementation of sustainable resource strategies that deliver greater operational efficiencies.

Plan A, M&S’ ethical and environmental goals, was launched in 2007 as a 100-point, five-year plan. Having achieved its major goal of making its UK business carbon neutral, M&S has introduced Plan A 2020, which consists of 100 new, revised and existing commitments, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

M&S says public reporting on the attainment of Plan A goals, including any missed targets, makes its sustainability strategy transparent and accessible both to the public and to the international retail industry, in a quantifiable format.

S-Group won the 2016 NACS Insight European Technology Implementation Award for its new mobile fuelling feature being included in its award-winning S-Mobile iPhone app.

The innovative service is promoted as combining retail, banking and fuelling to transform the entire retail customer experience.

S-Group is a Finnish cooperative group of companies operating in the retail sector. The mobile fuelling app was launched by two of S-Group’s subsidiaries: S-Bank, which provides all co-op members with comprehensive banking services and ABC, a service-station chain and fuel-trade company.

S-Mobile automatically recognises the customer’s location, and fuelling is initiated by choosing the correct fuel pump from the app. After fuelling, the payment is handled automatically through the S-Bank Visa card, linking the payment with customer loyalty benefits. S Group’s mobile app has more than 600,000 downloads in Finland, whose population is 5.4 million.

“We want to create simple services with a superb digital banking and retail experience for our 2.8 million customers,” S-Bank Managing Director Pekka Ylihurula said. “With our service, customers no longer need to use traditional card readers and PIN codes at the petrol station.

“In the Finnish winter, where temperatures can dip below -30°C, traditional pump activation is a hassle. We believe that the app can overcome such inconveniences and ensure a seamless customer experience with automatic payments for the user.”

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