Mark Oliver, who runs a SPAR store in Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, was among the audience at the recent top level Heart of the Community Conference in London, organised by the Association of Convenience Stores.
“It was a very useful and informative meeting,” said Mark. “Retailers in SPAR need to get behind the ACS in support of its various efforts on our behalf.” He said that one of the underlying messages that came across from the conference was a recommendation to independent retailers to get themselves under the fascia of a symbol group sooner rather than later.
The ACS campaigns on behalf of 33,500 stores in the UK and the conference, the biggest political meeting of its kind in the local shop sector, attracted a cross-party representation of MP’s, including Mark Prisk, the Minister for Housing and Local Growth.
James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, called for retailers to make a national impact by engaging with decision makers at a local level and becoming civic leaders in their own right within their communities.
He told the audience: “We are entering into an unprecedented era of local decision making on issues like crime, planning and alcohol licensing. This is a golden opportunity for convenience retailers to establish themselves as civic leaders in their communities by engaging with Community Alcohol Partnerships, the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and local planners.”
Mark Prisk said: “It’s a tough time for retailers, which is why this Government is doing all it can to help retailers adapt and so compete for more custom. A thriving convenience sector is part of this, which is why we have acted to help small firms with business rate relief, cut their corporation tax rates and are now helping our town centres and high streets compete.”