Shadow minister for health Mike Penning took the opportunity of a shop re-opening to show his support for convenience stores.

The Conservative candidate for Hemel Hempstead called on his constituents to treasure their local shops. "C-stores are the lifeblood of the community. It's so important that we keep independent retailers," he told locals at the re-opening of Nisa retailer Kishor Patel's Hemel Hempstead store.

"We all do big shops in the supermarkets, but we can't allow them to dominate everything. If the big stores take over then there is no choice."

Residents turned up in droves to show support for Kishor, who has spent £125,000 revamping the store. Fresh and chilled was a major focus and four chillers and a five-metre fruit and veg section have been installed. Kishor has also invested in a wireless temperature monitoring system, which texts or emails store managers if the temperature of a unit falls outside a set parameter.

Penning told local residents: "You will be amazed by the transformation. There's been a huge investment from Kishor so that you can come here instead of the major supermarkets."

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman also attended the event. "We hope that if Mr Penning becomes a government minister he will continue to fight for the interests of local shops against disproportionate measures such as the tobacco display ban," he said.