Small retailers need to get their tobacco range, display and knowledge spot on if they want to succeed when the full tobacco display ban comes into force in two years.

The advice came from tobacco manufacturers as the display ban in stores over 3,000sq ft reached the anniversary of its first year in operation this month.

Jeremy Blackburn, JTI head of communications, said small stores need to focus on availability, range, training, innovation, sales and technology. “The better they do that, the better they’ll be prepared for the transition,” he said. “If they haven’t got a robust system to monitor sales regularly, they should think about investing in one, and if they haven’t been training staff on the category, start now.”

Gayatri Barua-Howe, communications manager at Imperial Tobacco, added: “Stores that focus on maintaining excellent availability and ensuring their range reflects the preferences of local tobacco shoppers, will be in a strong position to grow business and pro­tect turnover when their store is affected by display restrictions in 2015.”

In the display ban’s first year, large independent stores with local competition have reported a slight fall in sales, while many small stores who were ready to capitalise on the ban, gained share.

Jai Singh of Singh’s Premier, Sheffield, benefited from a 15 per cent sales rise once the ban began. He said he had already imitated the ban to see how it will work in 2015. “We realised that the way we serve customers would be completely different,” he said. “I’d like to find out more about how it will actually work so we can prepare for it.”