A multi-million pound package of investment in supply chain improvements was announced by Musgrave Retail Partners at the group’s annual retailer conference in London last month. The event celebrated "new beginnings" and a "major milestone in the history of the brand" and included sessions to help Budgens retailers improve their operations, develop their businesses and grow their profits.

In her first year as chair of the Budgens national retailer council, forecourt operator Susie Hawkins, of the Simon Smith Group, urged fellow retailers to work together in order to grow together: "Today is quite a day for all of us, as this is the first conference where all the Budgens retailers own their own businesses and are working in partnership with Musgrave," she said.

Phil Smith, managing director of Musgrave Retail Partners, said the main achievement in the past year had been making the transition to ownership by entrepreneurial food retailers working within their communities.

"Against a background of increased competition, a Budgens brand that is different and better can thrive," he said. "Budgens is now a community of committed, independent, local, entrepreneurial retailers, who can really capitalise on consumer trends. But we must work together to become a relevant, distinctive and consistent brand.

"Our focus will be on delivering the brand basics and building a culture of customer service." He confirmed the company’s target for 2008 would include focusing on availability, price and value perception.