Meet the judges


Bart DallaMura
Chris Noice

As Head of Communications and Research, Chris is responsible for all ACS external and internal communications, media relations and a growing research portfolio which includes the industry leading Local Shop Report. Chris is an official spokesperson for ACS, appearing frequently on national and regional radio and television including BBC News, Sky News, BBC Breakfast and the Daily Politics show. Chris also hosts the Local Shop Podcast for ACS. Chris joined ACS in October 2009 having graduated from the University of York with a degree in English and Linguistics.

David Rees

David Rees was editor at Convenience Store from 2005 to 2020. Over many years, he closely monitored and commented on changes in the fast-moving convenience store industry, and has built up a wealth of experience and contacts through Convenience-Store's magazine, website and social media platforms.

Dee Patel

I have been passionate about retailing since I was 12 years old .I Started in helping my parents in their pharmacies to having a chain of convenience stores, Costa Coffee stores, pharmacies , care homes and Dessert restaurants over my career. You could say my retail passion has never left me since a young age.

The brands we have been involved in through convenience has been Budgens , Nisa , Premier. As the brands have evolved over the years it is still great seeing them all on our streets in bigger and better formats.

I have sat on many retail forums Budgens, Costa Coffee and Healthcare. Everything still comes down to great customer experience which is what drove all by businesses.

I now own a resturant chain Kaspas and a chain of Learning Disability homes . My retail experience has helped in my current businesses as the core values are still the same.

My charity work has taken me around the world and I am an ambassador for Papworth Hospital to whom I dedicate my charity work too.

No day is the same , every day can be a challenge but this all makes us stronger and evolve with the businesses we are involved in.

Giorgio Rigali

Giorgio started his career within the convenience retail sector at Palmer & Harvey, working closely with convenience retailers and managing the relationship P&H had with the trade media. 18 months later, he joined insight experts HIM & MCA Insight as Communications Manager. In July 2020, HIM & MCA Insight launched its new brand and insight solution, Lumina Intelligence. Giorgio successfully led the marketing, design and launch plan for the new brand, for which he remains the Communications Manager. Outside of his workspace, Giorgio can often be found visiting convenience stores and foodservice operators across the UK, creating content for events, writing insight-led material on the industry or working closely with the media.

Jill Ross

Jill joined the McCurrach Group as Chief Executive in 2018, bringing with her a wealth of experience in FMCG. She started her career at Unilever as a graduate management trainee, and over the next 21 years held several key leadership roles including 6 years on the Board of Unilever UK & Ireland.

As VP Sales for Unilever UK and Managing Director for Unilever Ireland, she led the sales teams across all retail customers in both geographies. At McCurrach, she leads a business providing sales expertise to a variety of different sectors in the UK and Ireland, supporting both brands and retailers to drive B2B and B2C sales. In addition, Jill is Chair of the Board Trustees at IGD and is a member of IGD’s Policy Issues Council.

Nigel Gray

Nigel has extensive experience in retail built up over 30 years. After graduating with an MSc degree at Durham University Business School, he joined Marks and Spencer PLC where he spent 20 progressive years of working in single and multi-site roles throughout Britain and Ireland, including roles in Marble Arch and within the GM Buying Group in Baker Street.

In September 2009, Nigel became the Retail Director at Hendersons, the family owned SPAR RDC in Northern Ireland where he spent 5 successful years before moving in 2014 to NISA Retail Ltd, the mutual style wholesaler based in Scunthorpe, initially as the Symbol Group Director and then ultimately as the Retail Director, it was during this time that Nigel played an integral part in the sale of the business to the Co-op.

Nigel is passionate about the positive and influential role that retail can play within the community and has held the position of Chair and trustee of MADL (the charitable organisation linked to NISA Retail Ltd) as well as being on the boards of the ACS, Business in the Community NI, Belfast Chamber of Commerce (Vice President) and Belfast City Centre Management. In December 2019, Nigel started a career break and has spent his time reacquainting himself with his family in Singapore and Australia.

Robin Mannering

Robin has worked as Convenience Store deputy editor and website editor for nine years, covering a broad range of topics from industry and legislative developments, to store revamps and consumer trends. He has visited independent c-store retailers across the UK, and interviewed industry executives and government ministers.

Sarah Britton

Sarah has worked as features editor on Convenience Store magazine for 12 years, interviewing many of the best retailers in the UK and writing articles on a wide range of topics, including business planning, crime prevention and store development. Prior to this she spent three years working at Food Manufacture magazine.

Steve Carter

Steve has over 30 years experience across multiple retail and wholesale and Foodservice working at Sainsbury’s, Budgens , Musgrave and more recently at Bestway Wholesale.

He has a great knowledge of the industry and a fantastic appreciation of what makes great retailers stand out. His detailed knowledge of Fresh Foods and Foot to Go have supported many retail businesses to move forward in this exciting arena.

Steve is extremely excited to be a judge at this years awards and is keen to see how independent retail standards continue to improve. He is keen to see how good retailers are adapting to the ever changing market and creating points of difference that keep their customers loyal.