Welsh Assembly Members threw their political weight behind the independent c-store sector last week after launching a cross-party group on small shops.

Chair of the group Janet Finch Saunders AM pledged to give “100% support in moving forward” with the group, which has the backing of all political parties in the Assembly.

“For me, small businesses have always been the backbone of our country, no more so than our local convenience stores,” she said. “The only way we can get the Welsh economy back on its feet is supporting businesses such as yours.”

The Aberconwy AM was joined by six other Assembly Members at the launch in the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff, and pledged to encourage all AMs to sign up to the group.

She also sought to reassure retailers who were concerned about the mandatory display requirement for food hygiene ratings in November. “I’ll keep an eye on ‘scores on the doors’. Never should legislation going through this government impact on how you run your businesses,” she told retailers at the event.

Mohammad Asghar, AM for South Wales East, hit out at Coca-Cola Enterprises for restricting the sale of 2ltr bottles of Coca-Cola to supermarket groups. “Manufacturers must give you the same prices they give the supermarkets,” he said.

The event followed an Association of Convenience Stores seminar at which chief executive James Lowman highlighted retailers’ positive feedback on the 5p single-use carrier bag levy, which was introduced in October 2011.

Ian Feline, operations manager at Martin McColl, said that prior planning had made the scheme so successful. “We did in-store advertising beforehand, detailing the charities who would benefit. We turned it into a PR exercise and sent out new POS to stores every six months. Plastic bag usage is definitely down in our stores,” he said.