Stiffer competition from the multiples and among symbol groups themselves are behind the high proportion of retailers who are willing to change symbol groups, Convenience Store research reveals.

According to a C-Store website poll, 89% of retailers have recently changed symbol group, or are considering doing so.

Raju Chauhan, who switched one of his London stores from Spar to Londis in December and is currently looking to change another, believes that retailers have become more demanding and are more willing to change groups to get what they want. “If you are paying a fee to a symbol group and aren’t happy with the service, then you’re going to want to change it,” he commented.

Your views
We changed from Premier to Costcutter Kwiksave earlier this year, but we had been thinking about it for a couple of years. We wanted access to a larger range than we had before, and needed more support to grow the business - especially with all of the competition in our area. We spoke to a few symbols to see what the best offers out there were.”
Bav Parekh
Kwiksave, Little Lever, Bolton, Greater Manchester

Before we switched to Simply Fresh, we looked at all of the symbol groups to see what they had to offer. It’s important that the symbol group you choose has the same vision for the business that you do and will provide you with the support that is needed to help your store thrive.”
Vinny Atwal
Simply Fresh, Stourbridge, West Midlands

Raju added: “Symbol groups have woken up to the fact that retailers are looking to change and are upping their service.They’re all looking to build their store numbers so retailers are in a much better position than they were several years ago.”

Mark Canniford, who runs a Spar store in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, is no stranger to changing groups. Spar is the third group he has belonged to in the past decade. He believes retailers should constantly examine their options. “I’m not looking at changing right now, but I would never say I wouldn’t change again,” said Mark. “If my current symbol group wasn’t offering me the support I needed, I would look elsewhere.”

Bestway fascias Best-one and Best-in witnessed the largest increase in store numbers over the past 12 months, according to the 2012 Grocery Retail Structure, with Premier closely behind.

Director for Best-one at Bestway, James Hall, put the number of retailers switching, or considering a move, down to growing competition.
“Increased competition with the multiples opening practically up the road and the difficult times in which we live, all demand the best support you can get,” he said.