It was a double celebration for Premier this week after the symbol fascia hit the 3,000-store mark and retained its crown as Symbol Retailer of the Year at The Grocer Gold Awards (see p46).

The symbol chain reached the 3,000 milestone by opening Wensleydale Convenience Store, in Blythe, Northumberland. The store is owned by independent retailer Peter Saleem, who was previously with Londis.

The opening makes Premier the first symbol retailer in the UK to reach 3,000 stores. Rival wholesaler Bestway operates 2,904 stores under its Best-one and Best-in fascias, Costcutter has 2,547 stores operating under its seven fascias, Spar has 2,312 stores and Musgrave GB has 2,296 Budgens, Londis and Centra stores, according to The Grocery Retail Structure 2014.

Booker revealed last month that sales to Premier retailers increased 12% in the year to 28 March. The fascia is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

“Premier’s commitment of delivering more cash profit for retailers and a better consumer experience have proven to be increasingly popular with both retailers and shoppers alike,” said director of Premier Martin Swadling.

Saleem added: “We have moved from Londis and have been really impressed with the whole Premier package. The strength of the value offer is second to none.”

Premier’s milestone comes in the same week that Costcutter owner Bibby Line Group unveiled ambitions to reach 6,000 stores, but did not give a timeframe for hitting that target.

Meanwhile, Bestway has revealed it now has more than 4,000 stores affiliated to Best-one and its Xtra Local promotional club. Best-one had 1,113 stores and sales had increased 38% since the start of the year, it said, while 2,895 stores were members of Xtra Local.