Mills Group c-stores will continue to provide more fresh and chilled products in a bid to combat competition from the likes of Tesco Express, managing director Nigel Mills said at the company’s annual conference at Oulton Hall, Leeds. Mills said the company needed to change its customers’ perceptions of the goods it sells and told C-Store: “We will continue to move away from a news and booze format to concentrate on grocery, in particular fresh and chilled. We have no plans to further develop our CTNs as they are trading well in their existing format.”

The company, which hits its 20th year in 2006, said retail sales had risen from £55.8m last year to £58m this year. Mills highlighted security as another challenge for 2006. He said: “Violence against shopkeepers is a problem which is on the increase and we will introduce digital CCTV systems with IP-based connectivity.” The group has also pledged to improve epos systems and £200,000 will be spent on IT in the first quarter of 2006.