William Colquhoun_150

Category D: (International), Finalist

William Colquhoun

SPAR Scotland/CJ Lang Company
Abronhill, Scotland

There has been a lot of talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted grocery stores, but for store manager William Colquhoun, it was less about dealing with commotion and more about spotting opportunities.

That ability has served Colquhoun well, as he joined a SPAR Scotland store in Abronhill, Scotland in the middle of the pandemic. He swiftly found ways to improve the business, lift the team’s sense of camaraderie and, while he was at it, go on a popular TV show to talk about the store’s effort to reduce food waste.

Colquhoun’s eagle eye for improvement, along with his 20 years of industry experience, spurred him to grow the store’s food-to-go, hot food and bakery offerings and focus on boosting sales and profitability in the fresh and chilled areas. Not long after taking the helm of the store as manager, he smoothly implemented a new home delivery concept to the store. Despite pandemic-related upheavals, he oversaw several updates, including improvements to the store’s fiber optic broadband, the addition of registers that can scan QR codes, the installation of LCD screens throughout the store and the use of electronic shelf edge labels for more accurate price information. As he was leading and helping navigate these changes, Colquhoun was also working closely with the retailer’s central operations team to create trial and test new process initiatives, such as sales-based ordering.

Recent performance indicators speak to his managerial acumen and task-balancing prowess. Even as he was tasked with reducing costs, he was able to help sales increase by 24% from 2019 through 2021 and propel profits to a 35% boost.

Colquhoun is hardly a go-it-alone kind of manager in the pursuit of such results. Described as an excellent communicator, he likes to set up boards in the store that provide information on relevant issues and programs, something that led to a greater sense of teamwork and engagement. By quickly identifying skill levels and individual growth opportunities, he is able to motivate and develop team members, recently helping an assistant manager progress into a store manager role and filling his role with another strong potential leader.

The positive relationships that Colquhoun fosters has also led to his team’s involvement in activities and events to help the surrounding community, from a fundraising walk as part of Grocery Aid to the filming of an episode of the “Food Unwrapped” series. Colquoun is interviewed in that show, talking about the “Too Good To Go” initiative that curbs food waste and provides customer savings through the available of “magic bags” with soon-to-expire products at a 75% discount. That program and his enthusiasm for it is another example of finding opportunity where others might find loss.

“William has a tremendous knowledge of how every area of his store is performing and this assists him in being able to drive his team forward effectively.”