The focus is back on the c-store sector in the battle for market share in grocery, with the multiples circling all sites on the market, says Michelle Perrett

The recession may have battered retailers, but grocery has emerged from the storm in pretty good shape with c-stores particularly resilient.

C-store sales grew 6.3% to £30.9bn in the past 12 months, according to the IGD Convenience Report.

Yet store numbers in the sector were up just 0.2%, reveals the latest Grocery Retail Structure survey, compiled by IGD and William Reed Business Media, publisher of The Grocer. This would seem to disprove the theory that the space race is being most fiercely fought in the convenience sector.

But dig a little deeper into the data and a rather different picture emerges. On the face of it, the supermarket format is enjoying the strongest growth overall, with numbers up 3.2%.

This figure, however, includes significant growth in the number of smaller stores (partly the result of the conversion of former Woolworths stores).