NACS Honors Rutter's, Bouchard at European C-Store Summit

First time U.S. chain recognized as International Convenience Retailer of Year

NACS Rutter's (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

Dan Munford (left), managing director of Insight Research; Kate Walsh of Herlihy’s Centra Fermoy; Derek Gaskins, Scott Hartman and Cathy Hartman of Rutter’s; Serena Guihen of Centra Moycullen.

LONDON – The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) named Rutter's Farm Stores, York, Pa., as the 2014 International Convenience Retailer of the Year, recognizing an American company for the first time. The group also named Alain Bouchard, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec, as International Convenience Leader of the Year, and Kate Walsh, store manager of Herlihy's Centra Fermoy in Ireland as International Store Manager of the Year.

At an event in London on June 4, the sixth annual International Convenience Retail Awards recognized and promoted convenience retailing excellence at the global level in conjunction with this week's NACS Insight Convenience Summit-Europe.

Companies from 29 countries and five continents attended the awards ceremony.

"We've been very fortunate to be recognized by both our customers as well as our industry peers as the best not only locally in our central Pennsylvania marketplace, but also nationally and now internationally," said Rutter's CEO Scott Hartman, "When you consider the impressive companies that entered, we take great pride in winning such a prestigious award and it feels especially great to know that we're the first chain to bring this recognition home to the U.S."

In naming Rutter's as Retailer of the Year, judges emphasized how the retailer delivers a world-class convenience store through its focus on people, technology, rewards and food. The company was also recognized for its QSR-modeled food format and quality ingredients, combined with world-class operations and best-in-class use of social and mobile technology.

Ramon Kuijpers, international key accounts manager at Imperial Tobacco, which sponsored the Retailer of the Year award, said, "Rutter's clearly recognizes that people make all the difference. Building on its heritage, it lives and breathes this every day throughout every aspect of the business."

The group also commended BP M&S Simply Food for the revitalization of its offer with a new, customer-led proposition.

Launched in 2009, the award recognizes excellence in convenience and forecourt retailing on an international stage and celebrates the best convenience retail formats from around the world.

Judges also praised Walsh's focus and management approach and her success in making Centra Fermoy a great place to work. She has worked at the Herlihy Group for more than seven years and has progressed through the ranks from grocery manager to assistant manager, then fresh food manager to her current role, which she took up in April 2013. Judges found that Walsh's knowledge and training in the fresh food arena has given her the key skills to develop the business, complemented by her degree in human resources, which provides her valuable insight into people management and the skills to motivate and lead a team.

It also recognized store manager Serena Guihen for her performance at Centra Moycullen in  Ireland. During her tenure, store sales have grown by 43% and she has helped transform the workplace into an enthusiastic, energetic and willing team.

Commenting on the entries in the 2014 award, David Ringer, regional director, TCC Global, said: "What a great selection of award entrants for International Store Manager of the Year. Retail is a people business and what unites all of these entries is the fantastic, positive impact that these managers have upon their colleagues, their communities and their store."

Bouchard, said the judges, is a "transformational leader" and a very worthy winner of the inaugural International Convenience Leader of the Year Award. He has contributed, along with his team, to transforming the image of the convenience store in the minds of North American consumers and has led Couche-Tard's growth in the Canadian convenience store industry.

More than a businessman, Bouchard contributes to improving the quality of life of his fellow citizens through his support of social, humanitarian and cultural causes and has developed a sense of leadership that continues to inspire.