Addressing retailers during Blakemore's annual roadshow, Evans said: "Many of our convenience retailers need to move their businesses away from what are basically CTN or emergency purchase models to a fresh food store where consumers can buy tonight's tea and do a good top-up shop.
"Industry statistics show that sales on magazines, tobacco, crisps, snacks and confectionery are in decline, so now is the time to make a step change in our offer."
The market would get tougher he said, but trends for shopping locally are improving and Spar stores were moving in the right direction.
"Retailers need to improve a few key areas of their business," he added. "The right ranges are key and planograms need to be used to maximise range and profit. Stores should also invest in chilled, produce, meat, food to go and bake-off bread all good profit categories."
Marketing director Ged Carter gave an illustration of a sustainable convenience store. "Food, fresh, credible own label, range development, promotional and seasonal campaigns make up the recipe for future success," he said. "If stores focus on food to go, top-up food and fresh and chilled, and squeeze the impulse and ambient areas, they will grow sales and increase their margin percentage."