Multiples will now be able to join the Association of Convenience Stores following a vote for their inclusion by its members.

At an egm held today, the ACS said members had “voted clearly to include multiples within the scope of ACS membership”.

Before the vote, to join the ACS a retailer’s primary activity had to be convenience retail – meaning multiples such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were all not allowed to join, despite having c-store operations.

It membership currently consists of ‘independent’ members that operate less than 20 stores, and ‘corporate’ members that join on behalf of a group of retailers, such as a buying or marketing group. Its biggest member is currently The Co-operative Group.

The ACS revealed in October it would be holding an egm on the issue “to ensure ACS is a broad-based, inclusive and effective organisation moving forward.”

It said its constitution “excludes many potential members, including franchises run by major multiples with independent retailers.”

This includes companies such as the Tesco-owned c-store chain One Stop which officially launched its franchise offer in January. This year a number of high-profile indies have joined the franchise who had previously been members of the ACS.

The ACS said that it did not have any new member announcements “at this stage”.

ACS chief executive James Lowman added: “Our members have made a clear decision to make ACS a representative body for the whole convenience sector. This decision is part of our wider strategy to provide political representation, industry leading advice and networking opportunities for all convenience retailers.”