High streets minister Jake Berry has set out the Government’s plans to support local shops in an address to the annual ACS Heart of the Community Conference in London.

The conference, held at Church House in Westminster on October 17, featured a range of speakers who shared their experiences of engaging in their communities, both with customers and local decision makers, and the benefit that local engagement has had on their businesses.

Berry said: “Local shops are a key part of our communities up and down the nation, so it’s great that the Association of Convenience Stores plays a central role in driving the High Street agenda forward. Their expertise is having a direct impact on the Government’s aims to drive local growth, making sure that communities continue to enjoy a healthy range of shops and services so they can shop, work and play.”

Research conducted by ACS earlier this year into the views of consumers, retailers and local councillors shows that convenience stores and Post Offices are the two services that have the most positive impact on a local area.

The latest figures from the ACS Investment Tracker also show that convenience stores have invested £874m over the past year, with £229m invested in the last three months alone.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores are integral to their communities, providing essential jobs for local people, investing in their businesses to improve the local economy and acting as a community hub for local customers. Retailers must ensure that they engage locally to show councils and other local decision makers the value of their business, and Heart of the Community conference is a great way to hear new ways of doing this from people that have seen success as a result of local engagement.

“With recently elected mayors, police and crime commissioners, local councils and other enforcement authorities all making decisions locally, there has never been a more important time for retailers to be part of the vision for the future of their community. We will continue to support these retailers in making a case for their business, as well as representing their interests to central government on key issues like business rate reform, crime prevention and the cost of employment in the sector.”

After the Heart of the Community conference, ACS organised a reception on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament to allow retailers an opportunity to meet their MP. ACS is encouraging retailers to meet with their local MPs in their stores to explain the issues facing their business. To find out more about arranging a store visit, contact Steve Dowling at steve.dowling@acs.org.uk