A NEW shop in Brockenhurst that overcame numerous challenges, after opening on the second day of national lockdown, has scooped a top retail award.

Welcome Stores Brockenhurst opened on 25 March 2020 and despite the pandemic has gone from strength to strength, leading to the opening of Brockenhurst Post Office shortly after in June 2020.

The shop and Post Office won the national Convenience Awards for New Store/Refit of the Year last night, at a gala evening hosted by Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington.

Post Office Chief Executive Nick Read presented the award to Postmaster Richard Dance, who is Managing Director of W,J&R Dance Ltd, the store's operator.

Mr Dance, said: “We are overjoyed to have won this award. 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 that have encountered. 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.”

Post Office services are provided from a Post Office counter alongside the retail counter. The shop has a wide range of food retail and specialises in local produce, zero waste dispersible dry and wet products, lots of loose fruit and veg, a milk refill facility and a customer sink for free water refills, plus more fast food options for the nearby college.

Experienced Postmaster, Richard Dancer, took over the closed Sainsburys Local and opened his Welcome store and decided to go down the green route to differentiate the shop from nearby Tescos.

Following the completion of staff training, in October 2020, the opening hours of Brockenhurst Post Office doubled. The branch is now open Monday to Saturday: 7am – 9pm; Sunday 8am – 9pm.

The national Convenience Awards for New Store/Refit of the Year category was open to stores that had opened from scratch, or re-opened after a significant re-modelling, during the calendar year 2020. This award was given to the store which, in the opinion of the judges, was the best example of a modern convenience store of any size or ownership structure.