Despite the growth of high street c-stores run by the major multiples and doom-mongers predicting the end of the independent retailer, the biggest symbol groups more than held their own during 2001. Londis had a particularly successful year, recruiting more than 100 new stores in Scotland after little more than a year north of the border. It unveiled its Genesis format and signed a deal with Unichem to enable chemists to diversify into convenience retailing. Spar explored new areas of business, with its biggest wholesaler AF Blakemore inviting membership applications from pubs after Prince Charles, in his campaign to revive rural communities, suggested they could become village shops where there was no store. Costcutter surged through the 1,000 store mark in February with the purchase of 35 c-stores from the ailing Alldays chain. By the end of the year 24 of the stores had been sold on to members and there was a total of 1,079. P&H McLane's symbol groups had a mixed year. Mace Express was launched in April and was well on the way to its target of 100 stores by the end of the year, but Supershop was dropped by the NFRN as its preferred fascia, in favour of its own Quix format. Without a major wholesaler partner the number of Quix stores grew slowly, but the NFRN has signed a deal with recently formed online wholesaler Blueheath as its preferred supplier. In the multiple c-store sector Alldays made another huge loss and was in such a bad state no one even wanted to buy it.With £179m of debt and a market capitalisation of less than £10m, it announced it would go back to basics and trade its way out of crisis. But some thriving survivors did emerge from the wreckage with one 23-store group in East Anglia joining Budgens Local, and Conveco, a 53-store group in the West Country, striking a supply deal with Nisa. For once T&S didn't buy up any large rivals ­ saying it was drawing breath. The Co-operative movement's bid to dominate the neighbourhood sector gained momentum following the merger of CWS and CRS to form the Co-operative Group in 2000, and the announcement in November by the second biggest society, United, that it intended to join the CRTG buying group. {{NEWS }}