Retailers and wholesalers alike have paid tribute to Nisa-Today's co-founder Dudley Ramsden as he prepares to let go of the reins of the group that he started in 1977 with Peter Garvin.

Acting chairman Edwin Booth, managing director of Booths Supermarkets, said: "A more instinctive trader you will never meet. Dudley had the vision to bring diverse grocery businesses together and harness their potential through Nisa-Todays. He has undoubtedly left the independent sector a strong legacy upon which to build. Booths has been a member of Nisa for more than 28 years and we all wish Dudley the best of health and happiness for the future."

Nisa member Kishor Patel said that Dudley's vision had given many of today's leading independents the platform to make a success of their businesses. "Dudley is a tough negotiator who has had a major impact on the sector," he added.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: "Throughout his career Dudley has shown incredible passion for independent retailing and has taken a leading role in making the sector what it is today. As a keen supporter of ACS, Dudley has contributed greatly to the political representation of the sector. Countless independent retailers have benefited from Dudley's energy, enthusiasm and considerable knowledge of how to compete in a challenging market."

Federation of Wholesale Distributors director general John Murphy added his tribute. "Dudley Ramsden has cut a towering figure, both physically and metaphorically, in the independent grocery world for more than three decades. He has been a huge supporter of both independent wholesaler and retailer culture. He and his co-founder of Nisa-Today's, Peter Garvin, quickly brought the organisation into the FWD, where it has played a leading role since."

Ramsden will step down from his role as chairman at the company's AGM on November 28. It has been proposed that he should be given an ambassadorial role as non-executive president.