Joanne Walker headshot_150x150

Category D: (International), Winner

Joanne Walker

SPAR Northern Ireland/Henderson Group
Co.Down, N. Ireland

Joanne Walker’s Spar store in Carrowdore, Northern Ireland, recently was re-branded as a Eurospar, but there was far more than a change of name involved. While remaining open for shoppers, her store underwent a nearly $2 million renovation that included doubling the store size; the introduction of a new butcher’s shop, deli and post office; and increasing staff by 50 percent. Despite the challenges that come with a physical remodel, sales increased 37 percent over last year. The keys to this success, Walker said, can be boiled down to two points: Attention to detail and developing a quality staff.

To ensure new team members receive exceptional training, Walker has all new associates participate in a 15-module program that includes petrol handling, food safety and first aid. Over the last year and a half, team members have attended 30 different courses.

All this experience has led Walker to take on a new role as a senior store manager, her responsibilities span from inducting new members to developing teams, and supporting other stores.

These new responsibilities made Walker decide to develop more of her skills as well, so she enrolled in a retail leadership development program at Queen’s University.

Walker’s response to the massive re-branding she managed in Carrowdore has made her a great asset for the entire SPAR Northern Ireland chain.