Nowhere is the competition between the symbol groups fiercer than in Scotland. While the catalyst for this battle was the move north of the border by Londis, new management teams at Spar and Mace have met that challenge head on. Spar has long been dominant in Scotland and currently has more than 370 stores and a 45% share of the convenience market, according to IGD figures. But David Walker, who took over as chief executive of Spar's Scottish wholesaler CJ Lang last year, is not simply looking to defend that position ­ he wants to increase it significantly. He has agreement from his board for investment which would increase the number of company owned stores from 50 to 100 over five years, and aims to add another 100 independent stores to membership within the same period. The company has also given its VG brand a makeover and is offering it as a lower cost symbol package ­ and although it denies this is a reaction to the Londis challenge, it is surely no coincidence. The second biggest player in Scotland is Mace which, unlike its counterparts in England and Wales, is serviced by Aberness. MD Stanley Morrice and retail director Graeme Hay are shrewd operators and are looking to build on their 180-strong membership. Costcutter, which moved into Scotland five years ago, has also experienced steady growth to a complement of 125 stores. The new challenger Londis has chalked up 100 members in little over a year. There are some grumbles from competitors about quantity taking precedence over quality, but sales director Terry Bedford is bullish about the prospects. He says there has been investment by Scottish members, including the development of three of the new generation Genesis stores and says Londis has exploited a gap in the market. {{FEATURES }}