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Richard Dance 'overjoyed' as his Welcome store in Brockenhurst scoops National Convenience Award

A PIONEERING Brockenhurst store which restored a Post Office to the village has scooped a national award.

The Welcome Co-op outlet on Brookley Road was named New Store/Refit of the Year at the National Convenience Awards, to the delight of owners Richard and Karen Dance.

Richard and Southern Co-op area manager Dani Ruiz-Perez were handed their accolade by Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington and Post Office chief executive Nick Read at the gala presentation.

Richard Dance (second from left) accepts the trophy at the National Convenience Awards
Richard Dance (second from left) accepts the trophy at the National Convenience Awards

Postmaster Richard has been part of the family-owned Welcome business for more than 30 years and owned stores at Marchwood and Ashurst.

"We are overjoyed to have won this award," he said. "We had many obstacles to overcome opening a shop and Post Office, but we were resilient and business has thrived.

"The store opened on the second day of lockdown and although the nearby college was closed and there was a lack of tourists, things went really well despite the restrictions and supply difficulties we have encountered.

Richard and Karen Dance
Richard and Karen Dance

"The opening of the Post Office has brought us so much goodwill in the village and is a big part of the initial success of the business."

A partnership with the Southern Co-op, the Welcome store was previously a Sainsbury’s. When Richard took over the site he introduced a raft of changes including dry and wet refill ranges, energy saving chiller doors, self-scan tills and improved LED lighting.

He decided to go down the green route to differentiate the shop from nearby Tesco, subsequently adding the Post Office after the village’s existing outlet had closed.

The refit award was open to stores that had opened from scratch or re-opened after a significant re-modelling, during the calendar year 2020. It was given to the store the judges thought was the best example of a modern convenience store of any size or ownership structure.

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