The best of Bestway Wholesale’s retail customers were recognised at the company’s annual Retail Development Awards, with one walking away with the £10,000 prize.

Eighteen stores owners took home trophies in categories ranging from Best Pet Food to the Community Award.

Describing the winners, Bestway Group CEO Zameer Choudrey said they were: “Testament to the strength and vibrancy of the independent sector.”

Kuperan Murugesu from QP Petroleum in Runcorn was awarded with the evening’s highest honour – National Retailer of the Year, and also received the £10,000 prize.

Speaking to Retail Express, Murugesu described the win stating, “it felt fantastic, real recognition for the hard work we put into our store.”

Asked what taking part in Bestway’s retail development programme has done for his store this year, he said: “It has helped us to really improve our offering, especially in food to go, the impact has been huge, our sales are up 20%.”

 Regional award winners Amjad Mahmood (Madina Foods, London), Kalpesh Raja (Parker Drive Service Station, Leicester) and Umar Sher (first stop to shop, Forfar) each won £2,000.

Under the programme, that is now in its 17th year, retailers take part in seminars aiming to help them improve different sectors with supplier support.

Speaking at the awards CEO Zameer Choudrey discussed the changes in the wholesale market, name-checking Tesco, Morrisons, and the Co-op before adding: “The irony is that, for so long independents, have viewed the multiples as competitors and are now being asked to join forces with them.”

He then pledged that Bestway would be “the last man standing” in supporting the independent retail sector. The comments continue the company’s outspoken resistance to wholesaler takeovers by multiples.

Bestway previously told the Competition and Markets Authority that the Tesco-Booker deal would be damaging for both Booker and non-Booker symbol groups and independent retailers.

Bestway Wholesale is currently the number one contender to take over the Costcutter Group’s supply contract from Palmer & Harvey, but details of the deal are yet to emerge.