Blakemore managing director Dennis Evans has called on suppliers to give Spar better terms in order to fight the growth of the multiples.

Evans was speaking at the company's annual trade show, attended by hundreds of suppliers and retailers from the symbol group's Meridian Guild. Referring to multiples' plans to cut down on the space available to branded products and their practice of replacing well-known lines with "knock-off" own-label replicas, he asked suppliers: "Are these people your friends? How do they treat you? It seems to me they treat you pretty poorly."

Evans claimed that Spar own-brand products were not in direct competition with branded lines and were either complementary or unique. As such, he claimed that the symbol group was the only "brand champion" in the market.

Spar wanted parity with the multiples on price, Evans continued. "How can it be we see products on shelf at Tesco selling at less than our net price when we buy entire trunkers?" he said. "We can't work together to build market share if we are 20% worse on price than the multiples. We need to be able to offer the great prices that our volumes deserve."

Blakemore has so far invested £1.6m in its new terms scheme, whereby retailers get cheaper prices on core lines and avoid delivery charges in return for adopting certain disciplines.

More than 500 Spar stores in the region are also participating in the Pounds Down promotional programme, which sees deep-cut price offers on dedicated displays.

In addition, Blakemore has committed more than £3m to its guaranteed investment scheme, which offers retailers a money-back guarantee if store improvements don't pay for themselves in increased sales. So far 11 retailers have signed up, and each investment has been such a success that Blakemore has not had to pay out.