Hundreds of convenience industry figures paid tribute to the first convenience store owner deaths related to the coronavirus.

Spar Hackenthorpe and Wigston site owner Raj Aggarwal; Krishnashamy Chiyamalan, owner of Templeton News in Dartford; Jayant Patel, owner of Londis Shrewsbury Walk in Isleworth; and Himansu Patel, owner of Kays Newsagent in Watford, were among five retailers reported to have passed away.

Coronavirus: first convenience store owner deaths confirmed

Aggarwal, 51, was described as a “leading voice” for independent shop owners. Alongside his wife, Sunita, he launched the UK’s first Insomnia coffee shop and had sat on the independent board of the ACS since 2010. Atul Sodha, owner of Londis Peverills in Uxbridge, described him as a “true pioneer in building the bonds that we feel within this wonderful industry”. Representatives from the ACS, NFRN, Spar, One Stop, Londis and major suppliers also paid their tributes.

Chiyamalan, 41, was praised by customers who raised more than £12,000 to support his young family. “I will never forget all of the kind gestures you did for me and my husband,” one wrote.

The NFRN urged retailers to limit customer numbers, use social distancing signs, encourage staff hygiene, install and clean plexiglass till barriers, and to remind staff only to work if no-one in their household is ill or self-isolating.

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