The best local store in the country is the Upper Street branch of Budgens – and that’s official. The shop was named Convenience Retailer of the Year last weekend at a national awards ceremony hosted by Convenience Store Magazine.
Paul Gardner, who runs the store, told Islington Now he had worked hard to make his shop stand out.
“We had to move forward. We’d seen that Deliveroo and Amazon had had big hits, so we thought we’d follow by being ultra-convenience and trendy.
“When Cook closed down up the road, we added our own cook section,” he said, referring to the closure of the high-end freezer food shop in late 2015. “They had 14 freezers and now our shop has ten.”
Mr Gardner has also brought in a hot food counter and plans to add a juice bar next.
“We aim to provide food for now and for later.”
The changes have seen sales rise by 10 per cent, he said. “Before all that our sales were dropping.”
“I got some of my ideas from Ireland when we went on holiday there. We visited Spar in Dublin. Shops in Ireland are way ahead.”
Food retailers have fared far better than other retail sectors, such as fashion and entertainment, as they tackle the changes sweeping the high street. Food sales increased 2.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the three months to January, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium, while non-food retail sales fell 1.2 per cent.