Jempson's petrol station

Our Top 50 ranking of the UK’s leading independent grocery retailers has acted as a mini prospectus for mults and p/e houses alike these past few years. So, every year, the list changes. And this year is no exception, with five names disappearing as independents sell up or bring in private or public investors.

So are independent retailers a dying breed? Not a bit. There’s plenty more where they came. OK, so there aren’t as many big independent convenience store chains as there used to be but those still there continue to thrive, with CK’s and Jonathan James growing at a rapid rate, while Warners and those canny Spar wholesalers set exceptional standards across their retail operations.

If the last 10 years or so have proved anything, it’s that entrepreneurs will find a way to grow. In even the most hostile conditions. Five ten years ago, you couldn’t give a forecourt away, such was the perceived might of the grocery multiples. Yet only this week, Motor Fuel Group tapped up MRH in a monster £1.2bn deal creating the UK’s largest forecourt operator. And while these are both now private equity controlled, there are plenty more independent forecourts, not least Euro Garages, which opened its first forecourt in 2001, and now boasts 884 outlets in the UK, and 4,400 across Europe and the US.

It takes hard work and skill to be a successful independent, but you can also act quickly as Iceland proved with its recent plastic packaging pledge, or make wacky but clever moves, as TJ Morris has with its drive-thru booths for buyers.

Another epic story of entrepreneurialism has been the turnaround of B&M Bargains. It’s now floated, of course, but it wasn’t the IPO that delivered success: it was retailing genius.

Next year, no doubt, more names will have disappeared from our Top 50. Booths is up for sale.

But new ones will emerge. Like Gousto. It might have given up as it encountered harsh lessons and other setbacks, as attendees at The Grocer’s Annual Lunch heard this week. It might have been awed by the clout of Amazon and Eat. But it’s worked through them. All the best entrepreneurs do.