HRH The Prince of Wales took time from his busy Belfast schedule to thank key retail and wholesale workers who made such a difference over the past six months.

Visiting Henderson Group’s warehouse in Mallusk, Prince Charles met safely with workers from various aspects of the Group’s companies, including lorry drivers, warehouse operatives and retail staff, all of whom kept the country going during lockdown by ensuring vital supply and services to and from SPAR, EUROSPAR and ViVO branded stores in Northern Ireland.

Martin Agnew, Joint Managing Director of Henderson Group said it was an honour to have a Royal take the time to recognise the dedication of their staff; “Our workers from all areas of our business have been nothing short of amazing, dedicated and inspirational during one of the most challenging times our industry has seen.

“We are extremely proud to have their commitment to keeping supplies on the road and shelves stacked during an unprecedented time formally recognised, and we hope it has given them a boost to know their work has not gone unnoticed by even higher sources than ourselves.”

Gary Reid, a lorry driver with Henderson Wholesale who has been with the company for 50 years this year met His Royal Highness, and commented; “We were very lucky to have been kept in employment when we were in the depths of lockdown, as we were providing an essential service. We were key workers and were fully committed to ensuring our communities got their essentials, especially when the panic buying kicked in.

“Prince Charles recognised that, and I was very proud to meet him with my colleagues.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson Group kept their 96 Henderson Retail, and hundreds of independently owned stores supplied with essentials for their local communities, whilst maintaining retail, logistics and wholesale roles across the company.

Henderson Foodservice also diversified to supply more than 15,000 food boxes for delivery to vulnerable and self-isolating people thanks to a collaboration with the Department for Communities.

Since March, Henderson Retail has invested over £1,000,000 and continues to invest in safety measures and protocol throughout its stores, alongside clear communications around safe shopping regulations to its shoppers through in-store, TV, radio and social media messaging.