An internet-powered buying group for independent retailers is seeing its membership grow in the recession.

Managing director Patrick Walkington told C-Store that appealed to independents because it enabled them to get better deals, without losing their identity.

The site provides a single statement, single payment option for a large number of direct-to-store suppliers, and easily accessible copy invoices and payment histories.

"If retailers have a query about an invoice, all they need to do is call or email us and we will take it up with the supplier on their behalf," Walkington said. "It means retailers can spend more hours on the shop floor, where it matters most," he added.

The site also provides information on new products and promotions, although Walkington, who used to run Palmer & Harvey's ACE drop-shipment programme, said that getting suppliers to communicate their news was an ongoing challenge. "For years retailers have viewed the internet as something of a distraction, and suppliers have not been keen to get on board. However, times are definitely changing."

For more information, go to