Leading independent retailers will be adopting a ‘back to basics’ approach to business in 2016 in order to improve efficiencies and make every square metre count.

The introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) in April, which will see the existing minimum wage increased by 50p to £7.20 per hour, is playing a key role in influencing retailers’ business plans this year.

Susan Connolly, who owns four Spar stores in Wiltshire, said: “We will be reviewing ranges and making the metres work harder and make sure we are making the maximum available from them. We need to find margin somewhere to help us incorporate the NLW.”

Adam Hogwood, manager of Budgens Broadstairs in Kent, is taking a similar view. “2016 is going to be the time to look at being the most efficient that we can, and really sweating the shop for sales, range and margin,” he said.

Julian Taylor-Green, of Spar Lindford, Hampshire, said he wanted to ensure everything was fit for purpose. “We’ve revisited the payroll and made sure the staff have understood the implications of the NLW,” he said. “We will take a more forensic approach to sales, categories and staffing. When we make changes they will be small and digestible for the customer.”

David Knight, who owns two Budgens stores in West Sussex, is also going back to basics. “It’s about really sweating the store. We regularly look at sales analysis with Booker, and one opportunity that has arisen from it is that we need to focus more on food to go at our Hassocks store,” he said.

But Baz Jathwa, of Costcutter Farnworth, Bolton, said he would focus more on events this year to sharpen his point of difference.

“We’ll start with Valentine’s Day and will be doing a raffle offering prizes such as dinner for two on us. Customers just have to fill in a short questionnaire so that we have their data. We’ll be promoting the raffle through social media,” he said.