Convenience retailers must improve their focus on fresh food if they want to take on major multiples and succeed.

That was the advice from the ACS Summit, where retailers and suppliers from the convenience industry gathered to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and future of retail.

Mike Greene, chief executive of the My Local chain of convenience stores, encouraged retailers to honestly critique their fruit and veg, bakery and food to go offer with other stores that are doing it well.

Fresh is absolutely the
foundation and you’ll have
a shaky business without it

“In the convenience sector generally, there’s a terrible offer in fresh,” he said. “If we want to get serious, we’re not really going to grow our business and compete with supermarkets with canned and packaged grocery. It’s an important part of our mix, but if we think we can do it without fresh, we’re burying our head in the sand.”

In a vote at the Summit, fresh was voted the sector’s biggest weakness, while hot food and drinks to go emerged as the biggest opportunity.

Greene added: Without outstanding fresh, you’re not going to get those top-up shops, bigger baskets and more frequent shops. Fresh is absolutely the foundation and you’ll have a shaky business without it.”

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of fast food chain Leon, also spoke about increasing fresh food as the Government continues to crack down on sugary food.

“Health is becoming a big issue and if you’re making a large amount of your profits on the chocolate bars sitting by your tills and the drinks in your fridge, it’s going to become an issue.”

Find out more key learnings from the ACS Summit.