The ACS will open up its membership to multiple retailers for the first time from today (December 4), Retail Express has learned.

A unanimous decision in favour of the move was made this afternoon at the ACS London board meeting, with the aim to represent the whole of the convenience sector.

Although no multiples have signed up yet, and superstores are excluded, the association is reportedly in discussions with their convenience branches. The decision to relax its membership rules will result in retailers under the Tesco-owned One Stop fascia be able to join the ACS, as well as all of the major multiple convenience branches including Sainsbury’s Local, Tesco Express, Little Waitrose and M Local.

The ACS is adamant that its ambitions for the sector will not change. Instead it said the addition of the multiples to the convenience market demonstrates how profitable the sector is.

Chris Noice, ACS head of communications, said: “Competition is competition whoever it is. Concerns about a rival would be the same if it was a Nisa, or Tesco Express opening in front of you. It just demonstrates how strong the sector is and we want to represent it as a whole. It’s a different sector than even five years ago.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman, added: “Our members have made a clear decision to make ACS a representative body for the whole convenience sector. This decision is part of our wider strategy to provide political representation, industry leading advice and networking opportunities for all convenience retailers.”