One of Budgens' most well-known retailers, Jonathan James, has switched two of his five stores to the Spar fascia.

James changed the stores in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, from Budgens to Spar after Musgrave opened a new store in the small market town under the Budgens fascia, taking the total number of Budgens in the town to three.

He said he wanted to differentiate the family-run stores from the new company-owned Budgens store, formerly one of the 13 Somerfield stores sold by The Co-operative Group following its acquisition of the chain.

"Unfortunately, the residents have been upset, rightly so, by the opening of the third Budgens shop in the town," he said in a blog posted on the website of James Graven & Sons, the company he runs with his wife.

"In their view it has removed their choice and I can understand their thinking. I have therefore taken the huge step of rebranding our two forecourt shops in Chatteris to Spar. This will hopefully clearly define our business as being separate to the store in town whilst giving our customers another choice."

Spar, like Budgens, was committed to fresh and chilled as well as strong promotions, he added.

The relationship between James and Musgrave is now understood to have deteriorated.

It had already been put under strain when James decided to switch another of his Budgens forecourts to a BP Connect and M&S Simply Food outlet.

The trial store, expected to open in coming months, will be the first M&S store overseen by an independent retailer.

James still runs Budgens stores under franchise in Ely (the site of the proposed BP trial), Soham and Dersingham.

He is one of the country's most high-profile independent retailers. As vice chair of the Association of Convenience Stores, he has given evidence to the Low Pay Commission and spoken to the media on key issues including crime.