Independent retailers and suppliers came together at this year's Drinksummit event to discuss ways in which they could better compete against the mul­tiples with alcohol sales.

Martin Swadling, Musgrave Budgens Londis' category manager for licensed and tobacco, gave examples of local products that had helped sales in speci­fic stores. "St Austell bottled ale outsells John Smith's in some Cornish stores and in some parts of the south coast Korkers sausages outsell Stella Artois, which is amazing as nothing ever outsells Stella."

Adrian McKeon, MD of Beam UK, said: "You have to do things differently to supermarkets and be braver than the multiples, which have a set way of working."

McKeon cited cider brand Natch as a key example of where stores in the local area around Bristol had made a difference.

John Mills, MD of Constellation's Gaymer Cider Company, said indepen­dent stores could also take advantage of being first to market with new product development in drinks. "Independent retailers have the flexibility to get products on shelf first, before the supermarkets. The recent Gaymer Cider launches were in stores within a few weeks of their launch, but took a while to go into Tesco."