Independents have been warned that they risk being left behind unless they embrace discounting and pound zone offerings as the gloves come off in the value sector.

Senior industry figures made the call as Tesco announced it was installing pound zones in 300 stores and deep discounter B&M said it wanted to double its presence.

Several symbol groups have already responded with their own offerings – most significantly the introduction of Booker’s Family Shopper discount format, which offers 500 non-food products at £1.

John Buitekant, managing director of specialist discount wholesaler OTL, told RN: “A new independent is signing up to work with us every two or three hours and it is accelerating.

“Discount shopping had a stigma attached to it a few years ago but now it’s part of the weekly shop. Retailers are increasingly realising that they can grow sales and are earning a very good margin while doing so. It’s win-win.”

[pull_quote_right]Independents need to be on the front foot to take full advantage of this vibrant sector [/pull_quote_right]

Mr Buitekant said non-food deals which include six screwdrivers for £1 were capable of creating a “wow factor” in independent stores.

Head of Family Shopper Richard Cousins said: “Independents need to be on the front foot to take full advantage of this vibrant sector.

“This is an easy way to demonstrate that they can offer value for money.”

Kash Khera, director of symbol group Simply Fresh, added: “Shoppers can increasingly find staples like milk and bacon in pound shops and pound zones offer the independent convenience retailer a way of making sure customers keep coming back.”

A growing number of RN readers have taken their own initiative to launch discount fascias.

Nick Mason said his Pound Zone store in Wrekenton, Gateshead, was attracting customers with deals including a four-pack of Carling Zest for £1.50 and cutting 10p from the price of all cigarettes.

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