Tesco’s decision to offer its One Stop c-store chain as a franchise model to indies could spark a new convenience war between the multiples, experts have predicted.

In a move set to shake the symbol sector to its core, One Stop revealed it was currently trialling a new franchise model at a secret location with an independent retailer. Other trial stores are planned.

Tesco’s push into the indie sector could force rivals to follow, industry sources said. “A franchise offer for c-stores has been overdue in the UK for about five years, so the race is now on for franchising,” said one leading indie.

Another convenience source added: “This could be transformational. The first of the big four into franchise was always going to be a big move. It will be a game changer for independents because of the buying advantage. Morrisons ought to have done it.”

Morrisons, which has the fledgling c-store chain M Local, had been understood to be mulling over a franchise model during talks with Costcutter last year.

One Stop said it had received a “very positive reaction” from retailers. However, others slammed the move.

“Madness. Why would any retailer want to do this?” said one senior industry source.

Another indie added: “How ‘independent’ will an ‘independent’ be allowed to be? I doubt they’ll be totally free to make all their own decisions.”