Malcolm Hepworth of eXPD8 (say it out aloud), a UK field marketing company, pinpointed retailer compliance as one of the weaknesses of the symbol groups that was a barrier to greater supplier support.

While some of the groups – such as Spar and Nisa – are doing well, others are falling down because they accept compliance levels of just over 50 per cent and they “accepted that retailers liked to shop around the various cash & carries for the best deals!”

The retailers need to learn, he suggests, that discipline is the best way forward.

However, he ignores the fact that the members of these symbol groups are independent retailers with different trading philosophies. On paper, his business model is correct. In practice, there must be a tension between the wholesale and retail partners as buying decisions make a huge difference to profitability and what works on a national or regional scale may not work in a local context.

His other point about how long it was taking independent retailers to wake up and compete on standards is in a great many stores absolutely correct. What are you guys thinking about?