BP retail director Graham Sims and M&S’s head of food formats Jill Bruce were among the speakers at this year’s National Association of Convenience Store’s (NACS) show held in Las Vegas last month.

Addressing the audience of the ‘High Results: Adding World-Class Food’ workshop, Sims and Bruce talked about the Simply Food concept on BP Connect sites, and revealed that the new format is already proving successful, with the average Connect M&S basket spend $9, compared to $5 for a standard Connect store. “There’s a lot of cross-selling between the two offers,” said Sims. “It’s producing diverse baskets. This is something that’s the dream ticket in the UK.”

NACS has become something of an annual pilgrimage for UK retailers and suppliers, and this year was no exception, despite the event being rescheduled after the planned host city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The Hull-based Sewell Group, and Forecourt Trader of the Year 2005 winner Susie Hawkins were among the visitors, and while many UK delegates were disappointed by the lack of true innovation on display in the exhibition halls, the workshops proved to be a hit, particularly the loyalty marketing workshop, which discussed the benefits of operating a system that uses key fobs to help retailers keep in touch with customers and their buying habits.

This year’s event highlighted that, for the first time, US retailers are feeling some of the pressures that the UK forecourt sector has been feeling for some time – fuel price volatility.