Bumper audience debates convenience sector’s future at ACS Summit19

An audience of independent retailers and senior executives from symbol groups, convenience retailers and suppliers met yesterday in Birmingham for ACS Summit19, the industry’s flagship conference.

The agenda at Summit19 focused on changes in the way that consumers want to select and access products and services, and the role that convenience stores will play in meeting their needs, as well as the evolution of the convenience store offer in the many and varied communities where they trade.

Speakers at Summit19 included leading symbol group heads Jackie Mackenzie from SPAR and Ken Towle from Nisa, Bestway’s Chief Retail Officer Andy Cresswell, Jonathan James from JCR, the sector’s largest independent retailer, and Harry Walker, who heads Google’s retail industry business, as well as featuring films from leading independent retailers Paul Stone and Dan Cock, looking at their approach to the changing convenience market.

ACS chief executive James Lowman, who chaired Summit19, said, “We’ve been delighted with the response to Summit19, from all parts of our industry. This shows how keen our sector is to understand and debate its future, and we’re thrilled to bring people together to do this.”

At the event, Lowman emphasised the societal changes that are influencing politics and business in similar ways. He told Summit19, “Diversification of media, and growing complexity in political and consumer decision-making, is leading to more complex and niche brands and identities.

'This applies to categories sold in convenience stores, just as it does to politics where people now identify with a breadth of campaigns and causes, not primarily to established political parties.

“The debate over the UK’s relationship with the EU shows how hard politicians are finding these new affiliations and the way that people communicate and organise to promote their causes.

'Our sector faces a similar challenge in managing a consumer base with more choice and more diverse demands, and we have to respond and stay relevant to their needs. So far, the evidence is that this sector and its supply chain is adapting, but we cannot stand still and be overtaken by our customers.”