“If you try and match Tesco at what they do well, then you’ll fail,” said Phil Lee, business director with Torex P&C, speaking at the Food & Drink Expo Briefing Theatre on Sunday.
“People want human interaction – it’s very important. Tesco is dehumanising retail,” he added, referring to the introduction of self-serve checkouts.
He said that, while the big retailers were more interested in processing customers as efficiently as possible, independent retailers could take advantage of this through retaining the human touch. “You don’t want staff staring at computers when they could be asking a customer how their wife is.”
John Farrand, director of the Guild of Fine Food Retailers, said independent retailers could go further: “They can take it one step on and talk about the product they’re selling, how to use it, how to serve it and how to carve it. Supermarkets don’t want staff to engage.”