Booker predicts legislation which will prevent larger stores from openly displaying products could result in a significant windfall for smaller shops, which will not have to comply with the restrictions until 2015.
The wholesaler will be running mini conferences in its 172 branches to help independents plan for the ban and realise the potential increase in sales.
Steve Fox, sales director for retail at Booker, said: “The tobacco display ban represents a significant opportunity for independent retailers. We predict a possible £500 million in tobacco sales will move to the sector after the display ban comes into effect in multiples.
“Tobacco customers will also contribute a further £500 million to retailers’ turnovers by purchasing brands from other product categories. We believe the tobacco display ban in multiple outlets could boost turnover in independents by £1 billion and will contribute around £140 million in extra profits for them.”
Patrick Toms, head of the distributive channel at Imperial Tobacco, said: “Display bans in other markets have given us some key learnings. In the large stores that don’t get it right, availability is heavily impacted and shop staff often take longer to serve, which has resulted in a lot of frustrated tobacco shoppers.
“All this gives independents an important three-year opportunity to retain their customer base and attract new customers. Tobacco is a key footfall driver and it’s not just tobacco sales that could increase in independents.
“Tobacco shoppers are valuable as they visit stores more often than non-smokers and spend more there. This boosts sales from categories such as confectionery, snacks and soft drinks.”