The success of independent retailers over the Christmas trading period is proof the UK still wants and needs a healthy, viable alternative to the big multiples.

The fact Filco Foods gloated that it had matched Tesco's 5.9% growth should not be taken out of context.

Competition from the multiples remains a serious issue as Paul Delves, MD of Harry Tuffins, discovered when his new store opening concided with a third-off voucher from the local Tesco (see p6). Funny that.

These retailers will be hoping for some encouragement when the Competition Commission's emerging thinking document is published on Tuesday. However irrespective of what is contained in that, the continued success of the independents in the face of these pressures is admirable.

Those retailers who attended The Grocer Top 50 and Big 30 lunch last week all had different strategies and ideas for growing their businesses.

But what all of them shared was a passion for retailing and the fact they are all prepared to invest time and money in giving consumers what they want. That's got to be worth protecting.

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