Spar retailers that don't "get smarter" could go under, the new MD of wholesaler Appleby Westward Group has warned.

Delivering his first public address since his appointment, John Pattison urged retailers to sign up to Spar's national promotions scheme. Consumers expected deals in local stores, he told the Spar Wessex Guild Convention in Marbella.

"If you don't sign up to the National Promotion Group programme, you are seriously harming your prospects," he said. "Your customers expect you to run promotions, and by not stocking national promotions you are damaging your business and weakening the Spar brand."

Retailers should ensure there were never any out-of-stocks in stores because gaps on shelves cost retailers, suppliers and the wholesaler millions of pounds a year in lost sales, Pattison said. He also stressed the importance of projecting "real value" ­­in-store and called on retailers to make sure that stores were easy to navigate, encourage consumers to trade up and deliver the best value locally.

"Having the right price and the best value locally doesn't mean you have to be the cheapest," he said. "We simply need to get smarter."

Pattison said he wanted AWG to become a consumer-led, retail-focused wholesaler "working in partnership with like-minded retailers and suppliers in a controlled, disciplined and structured manner".