ACS chief executive James Lowman has called on the convenience sector to engage with local decision makers to establish their community credentials and make sure the economic role of local shops is understood.

In his introductory remarks at Summit’16, Lowman predicted that local public health interventions on alcohol, tobacco and sugar would become more common in the coming years, and was a big strategic threat for retailers to face up to.

He highlighted the increasing level of power being wielded by local councils and police forces to restrict the sale of certain products on public health grounds.

Lowman said: “The public health debate is one of the most important areas of regulation that the sector faces over the coming years. While the media focuses on national interventions, it is at a local level that convenience stores will face their biggest regulatory challenges.

“The Government is making it easier for councils and the police to limit the number of alcohol outlets, with some councils even pushing for more powers to control the number of stores selling fast food or sugary products, so it is absolutely essential that we engage on a local level.”

In recent months, the Government has published a consultation paper on introducing a licensing system for tobacco, has announced it intends to extend councils’ powers to use cumulative impact policies to restrict the number of alcohol licences in an area, and has announced a levy on suppliers who sell sugary drinks.

ACS is currently preparing a guide for retailers on local engagement, more details of which will be available shortly.