There has been an acceleration in the number of retailers who have switched symbol groups in the past year, amid investment and supply concerns, senior industry experts have told RN.

Best-one saw the biggest growth, from 1,206 to 3,800 shops. The same period also saw increases from Premier (3,241 to 3,350), Spar (2,429 to 2,600), Today’s (461 to 500) and Nisa (994 to 1,300). Symbol groups with declines were Costcutter (2,617 to 2,200) and Lifestyle Express (1,585 to 970). 

The figures, collected from both IGD and symbol groups, show growth and decline, but it is unclear how many retailers joined a symbol for the first time or switched group. 

However, retail expert David Gilroy told RN: “There’s definitely been an acceleration in retailers switching fascias this year.

“It was kicked off by Palmer & Harvey’s collapse. Retailers and wholesalers alike suddenly had to offer a much better service and product range in a competitive market filled with supply issues.”

Today’s Group retail business development manager Graeme Cooper said the company’s fascia has received interest for its chilled investment. “We’ve seen a larger number of retailers switching symbols compared to previous years and we’ve added a significant amount in the past 12 months.

“Retailers joined us from the likes of Spar and Premier, mainly because of our chilled investment and overall store development,” he confirmed.

Filshill retail sales director Craig Brown said the £3.7bn Tesco-Booker merger helped generate interest in the Keystore fascia. “We’ve added 15 shops since October from the likes of Premier, Costcutter, Nisa and Spar.

“The feedback from retailers is they either want their independence untouched or don’t want to lose their point of difference with product range.”

Meanwhile, Seelan Thambirajah told RN his 15 stores will all be Premier-branded by the end of July. “I have seven Costcutter stores, but I’m switching because availability is poor and I’ve received no communication about how the supply deal with Co-op in June will affect my range.”