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    Wal-Mart Leader in Global Retail, Tesco Closing Gap: Planet Retail

    LONDON -- Already accounting for more than 32 percent of the global market, the world's largest 30 grocery retailers continue to grow at a faster rate than the modern grocery market as a whole, according to Planet Retail's Top 30 Grocery Retailers Worldwide report.

    LONDON -- Already accounting for more than 32 percent of the global market, the world's largest 30 grocery retailers continue to grow at a faster rate than the modern grocery market as a whole, according to Planet Retail's Top 30 Grocery Retailers Worldwide report.

    Based on final figures for 2005, this year's ranking and analysis reveals two clear winners: Wal-Mart and Tesco. With sales of $339 billion and a worldwide market share that almost equals the rest of the Top 5 combined, Wal-Mart maintains its undisputable position at number one. The American giant is actually widening its already huge lead over its nearest competitor through fast growth in its home market and continued overseas expansion.

    Closing the gap on Metro Group is Britain's Tesco, which apart from Wal-Mart represents the fastest-growing retailer in the Top 5. Tesco's sales growth of 14 percent (in local currency) in 2005 was backed by a continuing strong performance in the UK, thanks to its move into non-foods and continued hypermarket and c-store expansion, as well as further overseas growth, including a first full year contribution from its Chinese operations.

    Down the list, Sears has entered the Top 30 for the first time, thanks to its merger with Kmart, securing spot No. 8. However, the enlarged group's comparable store sales continue to be lackluster and deep problems remain, raising questions about the future of the new group.

    In contrast to these fast-expanding giants sit Ahold and ITM (Intermarché). While Ahold has fallen from third to fifth place in this year's ranking following the completion of the disposal of its non-core overseas operations in Asia and Latin America, ITM lost seven places after selling its loss-making operations in Germany. However, this temporary loss of weight of both retailers leaves them both better positioned for a future recovery, according to Planet Retail.

    Also dropping a few places is Sainsbury. Although the retailer has staged a recovery of sorts over the past year, being confined to just the UK market has meant limited growth potential. For 2005, the UK retailer failed to grow at the same pace as the rest of the Top 30. Furthermore, Sainsbury's disposal of its U.S. operations in 2004 means that sales have actually dropped over the past five years.

    Despite its acquisition of Safeway, Morrisons actually dropped four places this year. Indeed, the past year was a tumultuous time for the retailer, which saw it continue to rationalize its store estate through the disposal or closure of 28 hypermarkets and superstores and 153 other smaller stores. With just four new stores planned for 2006, the retailer may just drop out of the Top 30 altogether.

    Looking ahead to 2010, Planet Retail predicts that the position of the top four players in the ranking will remain unchanged. Walgreens is expected to make it into the Top 10 by 2010, as the retailer remains on track to hit its ambitious target of 7,000 stores by the end of the decade.

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