Surviving in “Tesco World” would require resilience and the need for independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to join forces and work together Lizette Craig, managing director of Botterills Convenience Stores, told the Lanarkshire-based group’s annual conference in Troon.

Craig, head of the UK’s largest independent Spar retail chain, slammed the recent conclusions of the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) market review of the grocery industry, suggesting it had missed its chance to lay down some ground rules about the role of the major multiples within the convenience sector. “The OFT believes there is not enough evidence to suggest the multiples operating in convenience is such a bad thing,” said Craig. “How much evidence will be needed? And by the time we can prove 100% that this is anti-competitive, it could be too late.” Craig revealed a 7% increase in gross sales for Botterills in the financial year 2004/05. Operating profit was £2.05m, up 0.6% on the previous year while net profit was £1.02m - the third successive year the company has exceeded the £1m barrier.

“Net profit was down 3% on last year,” said Craig, pointing to wages as the single biggest cost to Botterills over the past 12 months. She warned the company would face bigger costs in this area next year with the increase in the National Minimum Wage due next month. Botterills will open two new stores before the end of this year, one a new-build. There are plans for at least three new sites in the next financial year.