People want to be a part of their local community and look to their local shop to help them achieve this goal, Musgrave Group chief executive Chris Martin has told a gathering of industry bosses.
Speaking at the IGD convention in London, Martin said independents could meet the challenges of the future by being truly local in a way that the supermarket chains could not.
"People want to create community," he said. "They want to connect and contribute, and they want a shop at the heart of their community. In Londis and Budgens we are working with entrepreneurial independent retailers who have a tangible impact on the life of their neighbourhood, and help people build vibrant communities."
He gave the example of Budgens Crouch End as a store which is "properly embedded in the local community." Despite being next door to a Tesco Express, Andrew Thornton's store was thriving on community initiatives, using local suppliers and catering for specific nationalities in a way that a managed multiple outlet could not rival, he said.
Independents are able to offer community-minded consumers the personal touch, Martin added. "The owner must know the customers and their needs to make the most appropriate local offer, and they can play a role in helping people engage in their community."