The Association of Convenience Stores has launched a search for innovative retailers to compete in its own Pop Idol-style competition.

In the second year of the ACS Community Heroes Awards, the organisation will be looking to honour a star independent retailer who has gone the extra mile for their neighbourhood.

However, in a new twist to the competition the winner will be decided by an online vote with three finalists showcased on the ACS website. Entrants, who will be judged by their peers, will have to highlight specific actions they undertook to play a central role in their communities. They must also demonstrate how this achieved tangible and sustainable results that ensured a continued benefit. "It is important to recognise publicly the valuable contribution many local retailers make to their neighbourhoods," said ACS chief executive James Lowman. "This can range from local youth football team sponsorship to providing health check ups for the elderly."

Retailers have until 23 March to enter and the winner will be announced at a gala dinner on 1 May at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole at the NEC, which will precede the

ACS annual conference, Summit 07.