The Association of Convenience Stores has called for independent retailers to sign up to membership in a bid to create a stronger voice in the battle for fair regulation in the grocery market.

The move comes as ACS urges the Government to introduce safeguards for the whole grocery sector following Sainsbury’s acquisition of Jacksons Stores.

David Rae, chief executive of the ACS, said: “The implications of this latest acquisition by a multiple retailer will be felt widely and acutely in our sector. We must fight for fairness together, and I urge all independents to join us now to help our campaign for balance and true competition.

The ACS was quick to react to the Jacksons acquisition by calling for urgent action by the regulators. “We are asking the Government to review the rules which the OFT applies in assessing acquisitions,” said Rae. “Not only do we continue to push for the OFT to view the grocery market as one whole, but we also believe that it is time to introduce social criteria into the OFT’s decisions on these matters.

“The impact of the loss of consumer choice and of the growing imbalance in buying strength between the major multiples and independent groups must be addressed.”

In its bid for regulation of the multiples, the ACS is also calling for transparency of buying prices and a ban on below-cost selling. And in building local pressure, the ACS has written to the 45 MPs who currently have a Jacksons store in their constituency urging them to join the fight for safeguards to allow fairer competition.