Convenience store bosses must attract and retain high quality staff if they are to exploit their main strength ­ service. Trevor Dixon, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, told delegates to the annual conference in Birmingham this week: "We have no choice but to get more out of our staff and exploit the opportunity to win on the service we offer the customer." The best way to achieve that goal is to empower staff and make the c-store sector an employer of choice, he said. "We value our staff. We want the c-store sector to attract, develop and retain the best staff." However, a note of caution was sounded by Tim Furse, md of Bulmers UK, who warned that true empowerment was difficult to define and hard to achieve. "We often fall over and revert to old ways of working," he told delegates. Bulmers has tried to ensure every staff member feels able to achieve company goals. "I'm clear that without the involvement, engagement and empowerment of the Bulmers team we would not survive in this challenging world," Furse said. A main plank of Bulmers' empowerment programme was improved internal communications. US retailer John MacDougall, who runs Nice n Easy Grocery Shoppes, an 85-store chain in New York state, said his corporate philosophy turned on the belief that the "most important person in the organisation is whoever is dealing with our customers". - The ACS is holding its first personnel and training forum in York on March 29, chaired by Kim Mawby of United Norwest Co-op. Staff retention and development will be among the subjects under scrutiny. {{PEOPLE MOVES }}