Coventry retailer Aman Uppal chosen as Vape Convenience Retailer of the Year

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One Stop Mount Nod store in Coventry
L-R: Shailesh Solanki, Mustafa Zaidi Convenience & Pharmacy Channel Manager BAT, Aman Uppal, Kalpesh Solanki, Rory Bremner

Aman Uppal, who runs the One Stop Mount Nod store in Coventry, has been named as the Vape Convenience Retailer of the Year at the 2021 Asian Trader Awards.

The 33rd edition of the awards, which celebrates excellence in the UK’s convenience stores, was held on Tuesday 30 November at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London hosted by noted impressionist Rory Bremner.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has graced the event as chief guest, with leading politicians and captains of industry joining in to herald independent retailers, convenience store and symbol operators, shopkeepers, off-license owners and newsagents from across the UK.

Winners of Asian Trader Awards 2021

Delivering his keynote speech, Kwarteng said: “I have to say to the companies and  business leaders represented here tonight that you have shown a spirit of sacrifice, and huge amounts of real leadership in your communities. And that’s why I wouldn’t miss this event for the world.

“It was retailers, day in day out, who were bearing the brunt of the risk, who were working, in many cases 20 hours a day, to keep people going and to make sure that essential goods and services were provided. And my only word is thank you. You probably don’t hear that too often from government ministers.

“But from the bottom of my heart that is the most sincere, heartfelt message, because it’s been a terrible time, for so many people in lots of different communities, and without your support, without your unstinting effort, things would have been a lot worse. So thank you very much on behalf of everybody in this country.”

The Asian Trader Vape Convenience Award, supported by British American Tobacco, recognises how one of the major streams of independent retail revenue – namely tobacco sales – is now added to by the profitable and healthier vape and heat-not-burn alternatives adopted by nimble and enterprising store-owners, who can educate their customers about vaping.

Judges have been particularly impressed by the way Aman tackled the menthol cigarette ban, setting out a clear plan ahead and telling customers about the changes and the alternatives that would be available.

The strategy helped him to push higher margin vape products and retain customers, while helping them to quit if they wished. With demand increasing following the closure of specialist vape shops during lockdowns, he refitted the front of his store with a new vape shop, resulting in nearly seven-fold increase in weekly sales.

The Judging Panel said: “Aman shows much information on his shelves and takes advantage of talking to visiting experts so he can educate his customers, and has expanded his vape counter while shrinking his tobacco gantry.”

The full list of the winners:

  • Ram Solanki Lifetime Achievement Award: Sir David Amess MP (posthumous)
  • Wholesale Depot of the Year Award: Time Cash & Carry Rainham
  • Responsible Retailer of the Year supported by JTI: Lewis Prager, Best One Preens, Wakefield West Yorkshire and Jonathan James, James Convenience Retail Ltd, Derby
  • Convenience Chain of the Year Award supported by Dr Beckmann: Pete (Kalpesh) Patel, Zola Ltd (Costcutter) Southborough
  • Local Hero Award supported by Walkers Sensations: Asif Akhtar, Premier Smeaton Stores, Kirkcaldy
  • Bakery Retailer of the Year Award supported by Warburtons: Mike Humphreys, Premier Kenninghall Stores and Post Office Norwich
  • Independent Retailer of the Year Award supported by Booker: Pete Saleem, Premier Broadway Circle, Blythe, Northumberland
  • Food To Go Retailer of the Year Award: Shamly Sud, Premier Racetrack, Glasgow
  • Tobacco Retailer of the Year Award supported by Imperial Tobacco: Amit Puntambekar, Ash’s Store, Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire
  • Impulse Retailer of the Year Award supported by State Bank of India: Mos Patel Family Shopper Ashton Under Lyne (Both Shops)
  • Symbol Convenience Retailer of the Year Award supported by Bestway: Kopi Kalanathan, Costcutter, Doncaster
  • Next Gen Award supported by pladis: Nishi Patel, Londis Bexley Park, Dartford
  • Vape Convenience Retailer of the Year Award supported by British American Tobacco: Aman Uppal, One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry
  • Spirit of the Community Award supported by Mondelez: Julie Kaur, Premier Jules Convenience Store, Telford
  • Asian Trader of the Year:Mandeep Singh, Premier Singh’s Shirecliffe, Sheffield

Product Awards:

  • Convenience Snacks Brand of the Year: McCoy’s Fire Pit, KP Snacks
  • Convenience Soft Drink Brand of the Year: Monster Nitro, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
  • Convenience Confectionery Brand of the Year: Cadbury Twirl Orange by Mondelēz International
  • Convenience Vape & Next Gen Product of the Year: Ploom by JTI