Scottish political party leaders and former first minister Alex Salmond have welcomed the parliamentary launch of the first Scottish Local Shop Report.

Created by the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) and the Association of Convenience Stores, with data from William Reed Business Media, the report’s launch comes in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament election in May.

More than 30 MSPs were presented with their own copy of the report, which will help them to understand the importance and impact of the independent convenience store sector in Scotland.

Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Alex Salmond, currently SNP MP for Gordon, were present to discuss the findings of the report with key SGF retailers.

The Scottish c-store sector employs more than 44,332 people in 5,602 stores, that’s more stores per head than any other part of the UK, with one shop for every 946 people.

In Scotland, 65% of retailers are first-time investors, lower than the national figure of 71%, while 35% of retailers inherited the family business, higher than the national figure of 29%.

The report also emphasised the positive impact that Scottish stores have on their local communities, with 87% having supported some form of community activity in the past year, higher than the national average of 83%.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “We have been delighted by the way MSPs have welcomed this report. We are also calling on every candidate in the election to visit their local store and get behind the counter to get to grips with the real issues facing our industry.”