Budgens' franchise scheme for independent retailers received a huge boost this week when it signed up 21 stores belonging to a former Alldays regional development company. Anglia Convenience Stores, operates its stores in East Anglia, and began receiving deliveries from Budgens immediately. Budgens group finance and logistics director Steven Back said the new recruits were in an area where Budgens was already one of the strongest retailers. He said the stores would be converted to the new fascia and format on a phased basis, but it could be next year before the process was completed. Another 53 stores belonging to three Alldays RDCs in the south west are likely to be looking for a new supply deal if they can raise the finance to buy out Alldays' interest in their businesses. They are beyond the limits of Budgens' current deliveries ­ a Local store in Cheddar is the western limit of its territory. But Back said Budgens would be interested in signing up the companies if their stores came up to the required standards for Budgens Local. Budgens Local was launched in July. Chief executive Martin Hyson set a target of 50 stores in membership within two years. Seven months later the new recruits take it over half way to its target with 26 stores. Back said no more stores would be admitted to the Local scheme until the end of April, while Budgens worked to fully integrate the new stores into its network. But he said there was a lot of interest in joining from independent retailers and he was confident more new signings would be announced in May. {{NEWS }}