Anne Bruce
Symbol groups reported a rush of inquiries about membership from independents attending the Convenience Retailing Show
The spur is Tesco's convenience ambitions said Select & Save director Steve Jones. "There will come a time when Tesco is really going to come for us. We are telling independents that, in the face of the onslaught of the multiples, you need to do a health check on your business."
Select & Save wants to double the size of its estate from 75 stores in the next year. It is offering a free two-lane scanning system to suitable independents who sign up. Meanwhile, Booker launched a new look for Premier stores at the show and unveiled a target to recruit 500 new members in the next 12 months, extending its estate to 1,500 stores.
Head of Premier stores Steven Fox said the new look, which has been on trial in Nuneaton since September, was attracting a lot of interest at the show. He said: "For us it's all about working partnerships ­ makeover, not takeover."
Key Lekkerland trade and marketing manager John Liptrot said Key was coming to the show for the first time in five years as upheaval in the convenience market united the symbols. He said: "We are all in competition, but we are spreading the same message. Independent retailers that want to survive need to join a symbol group. It's the way forward."
Key plans to develop its KeyStore portfolio nationwide this year. It has a target to add 20 new stores in Scotland to lift the Scottish total to 100.
Budgens Local managing director Norman Kears said Budgens had come to CRS for the first time in a drive to recruit Budgens Local franchise operators.
It has just under 50, and plans to open 25 new sites a year during the next five years,
Nisa-Today's commercial manager John Heagney said it was targeting independents with a turnover of £1m plus a year at the show.
And Londis offered independents three months free membership if they joined by the end of May.