The success of the variety discounters is buoying up this year’s ranking of the UK’s Top 50 independent grocery retailers - but can they keep it up?

They say variety is the spice of life - but the nation’s ranks of independent grocery retailers may beg to differ. With often favourable terms from suppliers, independent variety discounters are starting to dominate UK high streets - and The Grocer’s ranking of the nation’s Top 50 independent grocery retailers.

Of the eight discounters that made this year’s ranking, five are in the top 10. Their sales grew by 11% to punch through the £4bn mark for the first time. With profits of £154m, they made 80% of the Top 50’s profits. And, adding a further 234 stores, they increased their property portfolios by 13% to 2,074 stores - accounting for 80% of the 292 stores opened by independents in the past year.

But how sustainable is the growth of these discounters? How likely are they to remain independent? And, with other independent grocery retailers struggling to keep up (strip out the discounters and sales would have been up just 7%, with profits down 40%), what can they do to fight back?