Independent retailers are likely to retain the lion’s share of the convenience market for some years to come, despite the wave of consolidation sweeping the sector, according to a new report from IGD.

Although the number of non-affiliated independent retailers was in long-term decline, those still trading represented a hard core of the most able and dedicated operators that would represent 48% of stores and 30% of convenience sales in five years’ time, predicted IGD.

And with symbol groups expected to account for 27% of stores and 34% of sales by 2010, the report says the bulk of the convenience market will still be in the hands of independent operators by then.

While the multiple grocers’ moves into the high streets and suburbs had generated a lot of negative headlines, the report says convenience store ownership remains highly fragmented, with 60% of stores and 33% of sales controlled by independents still trading under their own brand.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Independents are upping their game plan and we are confident that they will make up the bulk of stores for some time to come.

“The development of new types of convenience store across the UK will drive market growth and we believe will actually generate extra demand for convenience.

“This would mean that it is possible for growth to occur across all retailers, despite the apparently finite potential of the sector.”