Fuel retailers should get ready to be shocked at the Emergency Budget next week, according to Spar UK MD Jerry


But while there are expected to be more casualties in the retail market, he said the convenience sector was definitely the right place to be.

Speaking at the Spar Retail Show 2010 conference, Marwood warned: "The market is not going to get any easier in terms of what our competitors are doing on price...And we are in a state where consumer confidence has not returned properly.

"We have a budget in a few weeks’ time that’s really going to shock us all. As business people we have to be prepared...we’ve got a big challenge coming our way.

"The good news is that the conveneince market is the place to be. Very few other markets are performing as well as the c-store category."

"I’m very optimistic that we’re in the right place."

Marwood told retailers at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole/NEC event this week that the key to success was investment.

He said: "Never stop investing. We will always invest in our stores. Find small ways of investing but don’t forget the big stuff."

Dennis Evans, managing director of Spar distribution, urged retailers to be alert to new ideas and innovations. He added that the budget next week and other initiatives from the new govenment would keep retailers on their toes – with changes expected to alcohol, tobacco, planning laws and the tax system.

He said: "Some retailers are ready now, some people see the changes are coming and plan for them. Our best retailers do somthing different every year. You’ve got to invest in your business every year. Sometimes it’s changing your offer, sometimes investing in your people. Sometimes it’s just painting your store."

He urged retailers to "love your brand" and "localise your offer".

Guests also heard about the latest EuroSpar concept which recently opened in the UK, as well as talks from Shane Brennan, public affairs director at the ACS, and fuel retailers Raj Hindocha of the Hindocha Group and Tony Berry of Jet site Spar Cheltenham.

The conference was followed by the Guild Dinner, which included entertainment from comedian Jason Manford, and the tradeshow the following day at the Pavilion, NEC.