Engaging with independent retailers will be new Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman's top priority when he takes over on November 1.
He told Convenience Store: "There are some terrific independent retailers out there who give up a lot of time for ACS, but the rest of the independents are less involved and we need to find a credible way to reach out to them to deliver what they need."
He continued: "We will continue to work on behalf of all retailers, whether they are members or not, on political lobbying. We need to lead the sector's response to issues. Whatever the debate - alcohol, healthy eating, tobacco, the environment - c-stores need to be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem. So as well as reacting to government-led programmes such as test purchasing, we need to encourage engagement on initiatives such as 'No ID, No sale'.
"We are good at reacting to government proposals, but above and beyond the political we need to form a better understanding of what role we can play in the areas of training, services, benchmarking and so on," he said.
Lowman, 31, joined ACS in March 1997. Initially responsible for the association's regulatory work and political representation, he became public affairs and communications manager in 2000 and director of public affairs earlier this year. He achieved a MBA in 2005.
He added: "I would like to challenge independent retailers to look at the good work we've done and join us. We forced a victory on Sunday trading and have successfully brought independent retailers in front of the Competition Commission panel - which is a great achievement."
Lowman replaces retiring chief executive David Rae. The ACS has also announced that Mike Greene, chief executive of research consultancy HIM, will be taking up the role of ACS chairman.