Retailers are operating in a "time of turbulence" and need to innovate to ride out cost pressures and the changing needs of consumers, according to the managing director of Spar International.

Dr Gordon Campbell said retailers need to invest in technology to reduce costs, while developing new product categories and store formats to attract consumers.

"This is a time of turbulence, when uncertainty is increasing when consumers' needs are changing ever more rapidly and when we are experiencing cost inflation on every side," Dr Campbell told delegates at the Anuga trade show in Cologne, Germany.

In August, Spar launched its latest attempt to break into the fast-growing Indian sector with a licensing deal with local retailer Max Hypermarkets.

Dr Campbell said retailers needed to invest in Asia to offset difficult demographics in Europe. "We must enter new markets, especially the large developing markets of Asia.

"The population of Europe is facing two major demographic changes; a declining birth rate and an ageing population. By contrast, Asia offers the opportunity to enter with its large, young and rapidly-growing markets."