Food and drink retailers will weather the storm of future economic uncertainty better than their high street counterparts, delegates at The Grocer’s annual luncheon for the Top 50 independent retailers and Big 30 wholesalers were told.

Paul Clarke, national director for retail and wholesale at Barclays, told the gathering in London: “We are all aware that growth on the high street has slowed down and anyone putting a forecast together today would be hard pressed to be as optimistic as six months ago.”

But he added that food and drink would be better placed than many other areas of retail to come out the other side.

“The good news is that food and drink are staple requirements for everybody. We may be heading for a slow down in growth and trading will be a challenge but supermarkets and c-stores are still likely to see faster growth (than other areas of retail).

“However, there will be pressure on margins and at the end of the day, whether it be retail or wholesale, having the right product in the right place at the right time has never been more essential for a business.”

Clarke added that he expected to see further mergers and acquisitions in the food and drink sector but that venture capitalists had recently been overpaying for some businesses.