Retailers need to be more worried about government red tape strangling their business than about a Tesco opening down the road. That was the message from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Forecourt Seminar 2008 last week.Those at the event in Reading heard how future

proposals for alcohol and cigarette restrictions could seriously damage their sales. This included advice from Gallaher regarding the government’s recently announced raft of proposals regarding the display and packaging of tobacco products. The company’s forecourt sector manager Steve Palmer warned that the proposals could lead to extra expense for retailers, as well as an increase in black market products.

Meanwhile, Chris Mitchener of Retail Solutions explained some of the upcoming restrictions on alcohol licences in Scotland, and how these could eventually filter down to the rest of the country.

The audience also heard from representatives of the National Magazine Company, the Car Wash Association, UKPIA, and Harris International Marketing (HIM). In his presentation, retailer Robert Fraser told retailers they need not fear the supermarkets, provided they had a sound business model in place. He said that Tesco was due to open a store near his Brize Norton site in Oxfordshire later this year, but that the supermarket stores had an “Achilles’ heel” - they often ran out of products.

“We have to make sure we don’t run out,” he said. “We must also make sure we have a good relationship with local businesses, and get their produce in store. That’s the key because it’s something Tesco won’t do. It’s a point of difference.”

More details of the seminar will be in the July issue of Forecourt Trader.