Top 50 indie HKS Retail has launched its first store under the Spar fascia, in Ibstock, Leicestershire.

The forecourt operator currently has 27 shops trading as either Costcutter or Mace. It will remain a member of Costcutter despite the new venture with Spar wholesaler Blakemore Trade Partners.

The 1,000 sq ft store reopened as a Spar last month. HKS operations manager Chris Loach said that since then sales were up 15% and customers “loved the new layout and wider range of products.”

Blakemore provided full support for the store, including layout design and planning, imagery, range, category management, marketing, logistics and supply solutions.

Loach added that HKS hoped to expand the partnership with Blakemore to more sites, and was currently considering which fascia its store in Sandringham, currently being rebuilt, would operate under.

News of the move by HKS to Spar comes as Blakemore Trade Partners held its annual Spar Retail Show this week. Speaking at the show, Blakemore Trade Partners MD Jerry Marwood said Spar retailers could thrive by focusing on their point of difference and making sure they offered what shoppers want.

In a nod to the continuing distribution problems at Costcutter, Marwood told The Grocer that although there was currently “a lot of turbulence” in the symbol sector, Spar would continue to “concentrate on our own business and offer the best product that we possibly can.”