Better together?

Perennially rising costs and ever-tougher competition mean that in today’s local retailing industry the choice is less about whether to join a symbol group or fascia than it is about which one to join. Without the backing of a major group it’s becoming all but impossible for many retailers to maintain a competitive offering. SLR takes a close look at some of the best options available.

Let’s be honest, for many independent local retailers in Scotland these days the choice is less whether to join a fascia group or franchise and more about which one to join. Life as an unaffiliated independent is looking increasingly unsustainable for many as the costs of being in business just seem to keep growing by the week.

The lure of becoming part of something bigger is an enticing one and is one of the few decisions that an unaffiliated retailer can make that is all but certain to improve the business. Access to much greater buying power and all the benefits that come with being part of a larger organisation can be the difference between profit and loss in today’s ultra-competitive market.

Joining a symbol group or fascia doesn’t mean that retailers need to lose their independence – quite the opposite. While the different groups all have different criteria that members must meet in terms of buying commitments and compliance, the one thing they all share is commitment to allowing local retailers to retain their independent status, something that’s non-negotiable for most.

But joining a group offers all the benefits of being part of a nationwide collective of like-minded retailers with access to big buying power and the many invaluable support mechanisms that membership of a symbol group brings.

The attractiveness of that offer can be assessed by simply looking at the sheer number of stores that now belong to one symbol group or another. In 2002 around 22% of stores were members; that number is fast approaching the 50% mark today. One other point worth noting is that very, very few retailers decide to return to being unaffiliated after joining a group. They may subsequently switch symbols, but they don’t tend to go back to being unaffiliated once they’ve had a taste of what’s on offer as part of a bigger group.

So whether you are considering joining one of these groups for the first time, or are considering moving from one to another, this guide will provide you with the key data you need to make a fully informed decision as to which fascia is right for you.

Buying power

The great news is that the range of choices available has never been greater. Each partner has its own particular strengths, but they all offer buying power, a household name above the door and a comprehensive support network covering everything a retailer needs to remain competitive in today’s retail environment.

Choosing a symbol group can seem an intimidating task. It is a big commitment, especially if you are already tied into a contract or faced with joining fees – whether this is in the form of an admin charge, buying shares or paying for signage or delivery. But there is no doubt it can pay huge dividends.

How to decide which symbol group is right for you will ultimately depend on your shoppers and what they want you to offer them.

It might come down to the kind of store standards you are prepared to meet and your ways of working. If, for example, you are simply looking for a way of running promotions effectively then you might want to consider joining a cash & carry-based symbol group where you would normally go into depot and pick up the goods yourself.


The pros for retailers considering joining or switching symbol groups are numerous, not least because of the support a fascia can offer a retailer in every aspect of running their convenience store, from exclusive discounts and buying power to staff training, running a social media page and availability of new technologies.

Being part of a symbol group gives you the backing and the knowledge, from promotions to posters and displays, along with the merchandising system and product knowledge to help make your business a success.

Groups will send several reps and provide supplier contacts. They can offer an in-depth analysis of what you should stock, where you should stock it and how much you should be making.

The support and advice that is given regarding store development should soothe shop owners who are nervous of change, and groups may introduce their own recommended shopfitter to give you help with project planning and store layout. Many also have their own consultants who can do detailed reports on potential or increased turnover.

These can be simple or very detailed, taking into account the demographic area around the shop and local competition.

Sometimes there will be a fee, but it may be worth the cost as often it gives additional industry-specific information that will support any application. This information, when backed by the weight of a symbol brand, can add an influential supporting voice to any finance application.

Retailers should ask themselves whether remaining unaffiliated is detrimental to their potential as a business. Whatever level you decide to go in at, it is best to do your research before determining which symbol group is right for you.


Build a Premier partnershipPremier store

With a selection of fascias to suit every store, TV advertising and the backing of Booker, the UK’s number one symbol group is the obvious choice to make.

Premier is the UK’s number one symbol group with over 3,300 stores nationwide. The group is committed to delivering more profits for retailers and a better shopping experience for consumers. Premier has delivered double digit growth for twelve consecutive years.

Premier continues to advertise on TV. Premier is advertised every day which will be seen over 100 million times. The TV advert features Premier’s famous Mega Deal promotions along with retailers to emphasise the local aspect of Premier Store. As well as this, retailers also benefit from a full promotional programme covering all categories of fresh, frozen, grocery and impulse to ensure great value for shoppers to drive footfall into stores. This market leading promotional package, along with own-label and price-mark-packs, really drives the value message to help Premier retailers grow their business.

Premier works hard to ensure that retailers have the best choice of products to suit their individual store. This includes both Euro Shopper, Booker’s entry level exclusive own-brand and Happy Shopper, the mid-tier option. This is complimented by working closely with branded suppliers to ensure the best choice of price marked packs so shoppers can clearly see the great value available.

Backed by Booker, the UK’s leading food & drink wholesaler, Premier retailers can take advantage of delivery at cash & carry prices, as well as having the ease and convenience of shopping at any Booker branch. ‘Spend & Save,’ where retailers can save up to 4% on their non-tobacco purchases, is also popular with Premier members as this delivers real savings and adds to their bottom line. Premier does not operate any membership or joining fees and installs the fascia and imagery free of charge. A wide range of additional services such as recycling, energy savings, free Epos and drop shipment are also available that have been specifically created to add value and keep operating costs low for Premier members.

The group continues to go from strength to strength and its relentless focus in increasing choice, lowering prices and improving service has helped Premier members deliver fantastic convenience stores.


Your partner of choiceNisa Ardeer Services

With a 40-year track record partnering some of the finest award-winning stores in Scotland, Nisa is your perfect partner for growth in an increasingly competitive and consolidated marketplace.

With multi award-winning stores such as Ardeer Services, Greens of Markinch, Pinkie Farm Convenience Store and Giacopazzi’s Milnathort, to name a few, Nisa is the proven partner of choice for many market-leading, independently minded retailers in Scotland.

We have worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to ensure we provide all the tools needed to compete against the ever-increasing competition in the convenience retail sector. Importantly, we don’t have any company owned stores, so don’t compete with our retail partners and don’t have restrictive loyalty levels that impact on margin and the ability to trade independently.

In May 2018 the Co-op completed its acquisition of Nisa Retail Limited. The wholesale operation will provide an environment in which independent retailers can flourish. It brings enhanced buying capability, allowing Nisa Partners to trade their businesses in the way they choose, backed by competitive prices and promotions with access to a deeper range.

Independent retailers have the option to operate under a choice of symbol fascias; Nisa Local, Nisa Extra and dual-branded whereby a partner can maintain their local identity whilst also benefiting from the strength of the Nisa brand. Alternatively, retailers can opt to trade under their own independent fascia.

Nisa offers flexibility to retailers with their Store of the Future Evolution format which is a move towards a more modular development format, accommodating the individual demographic and shopping missions of every store, Nisa Abbey View in Dunfermline being one of the recent such developments.

A complete retail support package is offered, which comprises a strong retail focussed team, an enhanced category management system, a staff training facility and a comprehensive marketing package incorporating bespoke leaflets, personalised Nisa FM radio, point of sale material and national advertising. Excellent social media support is also provided with partners receiving assistance in running their own sites. And the corporate Nisa Retail Twitter account celebrates partner successes as well as offering industry news, trading advice and Nisa business updates.

Nisa’s flexible model provides its retailers with an unbeatable breadth of range comprising over 13,000 SKUs. This is supported by Nisa’s award-winning own-label range, Heritage. This provides retailers with more than 800 great quality products at affordable prices and includes numerous award-winning lines such as the Heritage wine range launched in 2017. Nisa retailers now also have access to a wide selection of Co-op’s high quality own-brand products across all categories. This is all delivered by Nisa’s industry-leading supply chain which retailers can trust, with an impressive 99.9% of deliveries made on the day and 95% successfully made on time.

Nisa understands its retailers and their marketplace, enabling them to modify their offer to match the ‘local’ demographic and to create bespoke planograms and layouts within their individual sites.

Through Nisa membership retailers can take advantage of the Retail Academy which provides a complete training solution to develop staff and help provide the best possible customer service.

Retailers are offered a full support structure comprising of a strong field team covering Retail Development Managers and Regional Retail Managers, in addition to Fresh Food Development Managers and Store Development Managers who help further develop stores.

And Nisa knows community involvement is key, and as such its retailers can support local good causes through Nisa’s Making a Difference Locally (MADL) charity, which has donated more than £10m to UK communities since its launch 10 years ago.

Retailers can join the Nisa group through the partner website and can rely on superb support from the skilled in-house staff involved in the joining process.

Complete the form on or contact our development team on 0800 542 7490.


Develop and thriveCostcutter Kirkton

Committed to helping Scotland’s independent retailers thrive, Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) is leveraging its new supply agreement with the Co-op to offer retailers an exceptional range and simplified commercial terms.

Our mission is to help independent retailers thrive, giving them the support they need to grow their business by meeting the changing needs of their local shoppers.

Following our new wholesale supply agreement with the Co-op, which went live this spring, our retailers are even better placed to meet the needs of their local shoppers with an improved range, offer and delivery service with over 13,000 lines available. The Co-op own brand range is now rolling out and will eventually offer 2,000 SKUs. And complementing all of this is our direct to store facility, which allows retailers to source local and specialist products.

In conjunction with our new supply deal, we’ve also simplified our commercial terms and CSG retailers can now benefit from the most transparent and easy to understand terms in the market, boosted by a rebate scheme that cannot be bettered. We’ve returned to our no levy, no surcharge model, backed by competitive bench-marked pricing, so our retailers can clearly understand the costs to their business. And our new rebate scheme rewards their purchasing, offering up to 6% rebate every six weeks.

Last year, following the most in-depth study of shoppers in our 30-year history, we launched our unique Shopper First Programme; a transformation programme that brings together shopper insights and sales-driving range initiatives, along with new brand and store design.

Every retailer has been provided with detailed shopper profile information for their store, including details of our five core shopper personas. Armed with this detailed insight, our retailers can better understand their potential local shoppers and use this to develop a truly local offer that attracts new shoppers into their store. Combined with the new Co-op relationship, our retailers will be better placed to respond to key shopper missions, especially when it comes to the all-important fresh food and food-to-go categories.

Our new Costcutter brand and store design – which has been created to connect with today’s shoppers, stand out from the crowd and transform the in-store experience – has already been rolled out to dozens of stores. The fully flexible modular approach allows retailers to invest at a pace that suits their individual needs and focus on the key shopper missions. This new look Costcutter sits alongside the Mace fascia, so retailers can select the right brand for their store; all underpinned by shopper insights.

Soon we will also be adding a Co-op franchise offer to our store portfolio. Already successfully trialled at one of our company-owned stores, it will provide our retailers with an alternative brand to attract shoppers, while allowing the store owner to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the store, as their team will benefit from the ‘by the book’ store management that Co-op will provide.

By putting the needs of shoppers first, we are providing our retailers with the ability to meet changing shopper expectations and buying habits, delivered through fresh, modern store brands that engage with shoppers and help them to continue to grow their business.


Make more and save more with LondisLondis store

Free membership, award-winning fresh and own-brand ranges, a dedicated support team and free promotional material are just some of the reasons your store should join one of the UK’s fastest-growing symbol groups.

With over 1,900 members across the UK, Londis is one of the fastest growing symbol groups in the sector. Backed by the UK’s largest wholesaler Booker Group, this guarantees unrivalled buying power, lower costs and the best promotional package in the sector with minimum PORs of 20% on core deals.

We operate a zero-cost model and work in partnership with our retailers to develop their business.

As well as the strength of a nationally recognised brand, Londis supports retailers with better pricing, award winning ranges, market leading promotions, store development advice and a superb supply chain service to help them compete and succeed in today’s rapidly expanding convenience market.

The benefits of the Londis offer include:
  • Free membership
  • Competitive cost of goods
  • Loyalty discounts of up to 4% on all purchases (Excludes Tobacco)
  • Award winning Fresh range with over 1,250 lines.
  • Award winning own brand ranges Euro Shopper, Happy Shopper and Farm Fresh
  • A best in class online web ordering system (Londis Webshop)
  • Market leading promotions every 4 weeks
  • Free Promotion Leaflets and FREE store point of sale support
  • Support from our dedicated Store Development and Retail Development teams
  • Tri Temperature fleet delivering all your ambient, fresh and frozen needs on one delivery
  • A best in class forecourt package with a dedicated forecourt team
  • Free membership of the ACS

Londis is a flexible symbol partner that has a fully delivered service and support package to suit ambitious independent Scottish retailers offering true value with the right range of products at the right prices. We provide an industry leading fresh offer with over 1,250 lines, including fresh food-to-go, fresh produce ranges and meal-for-tonight solutions. Combine this with smart planning, local area knowledge, range optimisation and the symbol group’s expertise in merchandising, and Londis has the package to suit any store.

We are committed to helping our retailers Make More and Save More and continue to focus on delivering Better Choice, Price and Service for our customers and supporting them to grow their business.


Best in classbest one store

With promotions to match the multiples, an award-winning own-label range, a dedicated support network and ongoing store development, it’s little wonder best‑one retailers saw sales growth of 27% last year.

With over 200 stores across Scotland best-one is one of the largest symbol operators in the country giving retailers the scale and expertise to compete with multiple retailers and discounters. And with sales growing at 27% in the last year, it’s little wonder best-one is becoming the symbol of choice for retailers wishing to take their stores to the next level.

Sales are soaring with double-digit growth in all major convenience categories from alcohol to tobacco, as the group continues its march to become the best wholesale partner for retailers.

Underpinning this impressive growth is the fact that best-one recognises that all retailers are different, and best-one works with members on an individual basis to advise on the right format for their store with bespoke joint business plans.

Among the many benefits of joining best-one are:

Category development

Over the past year. best-one has introduced refined planograms across key convenience categories to help members reduce the number of lines on-shelf and focus on the bestsellers across branded and best-one own label ranges. Members now have access to a wide range of planograms, shopper insight factsheets and must stock lines both online and in print.

Promotional architecture

Members receive five unbeatable WOW Deals and 15 Must Feature promotions every month with case allocations to ensure members have availability throughout the promotional period and individualised store leaflets to drive footfall and loyalty. Shoppers now expect to see promotions that match the multiple retailers and best-one delivers on this with promotions across impulse, chilled and grocery.

Field support

best-one prides itself on its continued support it delivers to members. Each member has a dedicated representative that draws up a joint business plan with members and regularly reviews this on their monthly call. This business plan is based on actual sales data and benchmarked against the store’s potential as defined by its shopper demographic.

New members receive a six-week period of ‘Hypercare’ where they are visited weekly to ensure that the transition to best-one is as smooth as possible and that standards and sales are optimised.

Store development

With a variety of formats available based on shopper profiles and their missions, best-one works with members to deliver the best possible solution for their communities.

From simple food-to-go solutions to full serve-over meal counters and premium coffee stations, best-one can help remodel, refit and revitalise your store.

Central Pick operation gives members longer shelf life on over 1,500 chilled and fresh products, with up to three deliveries per week.

Competitive own label

Bets-one own label products give retailers the reassurance of award-winning products while delivering increased value to shoppers. With over 500 products in the range coving all major categories, sales of best-one own label are growing by over 15%.

As a reward for meeting shopper needs, best-one members also have the opportunity to earn up to 5% rebate on their purchases through the My Rewards rebate scheme. Importantly, many members have used their future earnings from My Rewards to fund refits or expansion rather than tying up capital and cash flow.

For more information, contact our Scottish Customer Contact Centre in Perth on 01738 646 666, your local Batleys depot manager or log onto

Xtra Local

Xtra special,  Xtra Localxtra local store

Stand out from the crowd and keep your own fascia while also benefitting from the scale and expertise of one of the country’s largest wholesale-run promotional clubs.

What makes your franchise stand out from the rest?

With over 4000 stores across the UK, Xtra Local is one of the largest wholesale run promotional clubs in country giving retailers the scale and expertise to compete with multiple retailers and discounters while retaining their independence. Retailers can retain their own fascia, community standing and unique proposition while still offering fantastic shopper promotions on a day to day basis.

How do you plan to develop your symbol, franchise and fascia operations to attract more independent retailers and improve store standards?

Many independent do not have to sacrifice their independence in order to prosper. Although some want to make the transition to a fully-fledged symbol operator like best-one, this route is not for everyone and Xtra Local is the perfect answer with its superb promotional activities and flexibility. Xtra Local Offers speak for themselves – such as half price on Tetley Tea PM £2.65 now £1.32 and 10-pack of 330ml Coke Zero and Diet Coke at only £3.50 in September – and retailers, who also get discounted prices in depot really embrace these footfall-driving consumer offers. Each depot has a dedicated representative who talks retailers through the Xtra Local proposition and its membership benefits and merchandising advice and a full POS kit every promotional period ensures promotions are brought to life in-store. Each member is also invited to the Retail Development Seminars where they her presentations from Bestway and its supplier partners on how to increase store standards and meet shopper needs.

What are the biggest sales opportunities for your symbol, franchise and fascia retailers and how are you helping them recognise these?

Xtra Local sales are up 7,7% over the past year with chilled and fresh and food to go growth areas for shoppers and also for Xtra Local retailers. Members now have access to an unparalleled depot range of fresh and chilled products, but Xtra Local’s main aim is to be the best wholesale driven promotional club in the UK offering big brands for less. The Trading team works with suppliers on a daily basis to provide retailers with the best possible deals while the field sales team help retailers execute promotions in-store.

Category development plays a large part in the Xtra Local offer and BDEs help retailers refine ranges and remerchandise stores to make each square foot of space profitable through impartial category advice and bespoke planograms based on what sells and the store’s shopper demographics.

What deals do you offer your franchisees?

As primarily a Cash and Carry promotional club, Xtra Local members receive a monthly IMPACT brochure detailing all promotions on offer and discounted prices on a vast array of products in depot. In addition, members receive an exclusive two week buying in period prior to promotions going live so they can plan their offers and maximise stock availability and profitability. Interested retailers should contact their local Bestway or Batleys depot manager.

Contact details

Post: Xtra Local, 2 Abbey Road, London, NW10 7BW




  • Paul Adams, Head of Brand
  • Ross Halliday, Head of Club & Symbol Operations
Family Shopper

Keep it in the familyfamily shopper store

The strength of a symbol combined with a discounter’s value gives Family Shopper a fantastic edge for independent retailers keen to grow their sales and profits.

Family Shopper is a discount format for independent retailers that brings together the strength of symbol retailing with the great value available in the discount channel. It has been specifically developed to help independent retailers capture the growing sales and profits from the discount sector.

The unique discount format provides retailers with everything that shoppers would expect from a convenience store including chilled, alcohol, grocery and tobacco along with services such as Lotto and Paypoint. This is then combined with the best of the discounters covering a fantastic range of £1 non-food items such as stationery, kitchen utensils and party accessories, with a broad seasonal offering and a frozen section.

All Family Shopper stores offer a simplified range that removes duplication. Also merchandising in full trays makes the format easy to operate while minimising back stock and easing cash flow.

Family Shopper retailers can take advantage of ‘Spend & Save’ where retailers can earn up to 5% discount on their non-tobacco purchases, along with delivery at cash & carry prices, ordering on line and having the ease and convenience of shopping at branches. This helps to maintain the exceptional availability which in turn offers better customer service.

Family Shopper does not operate any membership or joining fees and installs the fascia and imagery free of charge. A wide range of additional services such as recycling, energy savings, free Epos and drop shipment are also available that have been specifically created to add value and keep costs low.

The group continues to attract interest from independent retailers nationwide. By continuing to focus on choice, price and service, the group remains committed to helping Family Shopper retailers grow their sales and profits.

One Stop

Take advantage of One Stop’s scale and expertiseone-stop store

One Stop offers independent retailers in Scotland the ideal opportunity to grow their businesses with a proven, highly successful franchise model that allows them to stand out from the traditional symbol groups.

One Stop’s mission is simple. To create and support thriving businesses at the heart of their communities

Trading as a successful convenience business for over 20 years. We currently operate over 900 stores throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Twenty per cent of these are franchises, where we work in partnership with existing convenience retailers to help them reach their full potential.

Expertise you can count on

Our retail experience is the major aspect that makes us stand out from traditional symbol groups, which are predominantly wholesale-driven. We base our franchise model on the groups proposition we run successfully in our company estate, giving franchisees a proven model to base their business on.

Our years of experience means we’ve refined how we run our stores, and franchisees benefit straight away from our simple and efficient ways of working and our technology that makes this possible. If you speak to our franchisees they will tell you that our systems and processes save them valuable time, so that they’re able to focus on serving their customers, growing their profitable business, developing their teams and most importantly, spending more time with their family.

Our model is built around four major principles:

  1. Better sales, bigger profits
  • We deliver a competitive margin of between 18-25% dependent on a store’s mix.
  • Market-leading meal deals – 3 for £3 lunchtime deal and 2 for £4 evening deal.
  • Continued price comparison to ensure the prices set stay competitive.
  • Brand-new Own Label range featuring over 450 lines – better quality, bigger pack sizes at lower prices.
  1. Investing in a fresh new look for your store
  • We invest up to £50,000 in a store’s look and feel through a refit package which includes a two-lane EPOS and back office system, store design, fascia and fixtures and fittings – all project managed.
  1. A simpler way of retailing
  • Our easy-to-use systems and proven ways of working take the hard work out of the day-to-day running of a store. So our franchisees have more time to focus on their customers and team.
  • Extensive range reset programme in which every category is reviewed once a year, with Chilled and Fresh having two due to its more seasonal nature. This ensures that our franchisees are getting the best return from the space they have, by stocking the right range at the right time, to meet their customers’ ever-changing needs.
  1. A partnership built for success
  • Our franchisees start off on the right foot, with an experienced former store manager in-store training you and your team for a whole week.
  • A dedicated Business Development Manager visits every four weeks, helping franchisees to grow their sales and margins, not sell boxes.
  • We’re fully committed to working with our franchisees to help their stores succeed. Which is why our BDMs and Support Team are on hand seven days a week, providing continued support whenever it’s needed.

Continued growth

As a franchisee you have the entire One Stop business behind you, working hard to improve every aspect of your store and – as we evolve our look and feel, offer, systems and support – you will continue to benefit directly. As we’re co-invested, it’s our priority to ensure your sales and profit continue to grow year-on-year, and we do this through our model and unprecedented support.


You’ll sign up to a five-year agreement and commit to store standards and core range compliance. In return, you’ll see your business transformed! So, do you match our criteria?

  • Ideally an established retail operator in England, Wales or the central belt of Scotland.
  • Existing c-store, CTN+ or Post Office wanting to migrate to convenience, or have a property that lends itself to convenience (will work with cold starts and new developments).
  • Weekly turnover of at least £10,000 (excluding services).
  • Sales area of between 1,000sq ft and 3,000sq ft If less you must have the ability to expand.
  • Have a current alcohol licence or are willing to obtain one.
  • Prepared to operate the minimum trading hours of 7am to 9pm (Mon to Sun).

Membership fees: maximum £92 per week; option to pay for all upfront.