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CHICAGO - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. increased its lead over Safeway Inc. in the 2002 Power Rankings, a key performance survey that examines how retailers and manufacturers rate each other in areas that are most important to their ongoing relationships, such as strategy, service and profitability. The survey is conducted annually by market research firm Cannondale Associates.
On the manufacturer side, Kraft Foods Inc., the largest North America food maker, surpassed consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co.'s long-standing lead as best-rated manufacturer.
"This year we identified that retailers and manufacturers who are consumer-driven are the ones most likely to succeed," Cannondale said. "Companies that keep a close eye on consumers and help each other meet consumer needs engender support from their trading partners."
Wal-Mart rose 6.4 points for a staggering score of 72.6 percent, while Safeway fell 3.4 points for a ranking of 28.4 percent.
Discount department store retailer Target Corp. jumped up two rankings to the No. 3 spot, rising 9.6 percent, for a total score of 28.2 percent.
"The (retail) story this year ... can be summarized in three words -- mass and club," wrote Cannondale. "Wal-Mart, Target and Costco are the strongest gainers in the retailer composite."
Manufacturers said that Wal-Mart has continued to become strategically important to them, not just reflecting the enormous scope of the company's business, but also its ability to collaborate in areas of supply chain and category management.
Kraft beat P&G by taking the No. 1 spot in four of eight key rankings -- highest strategic importance to customers; best combination of growth and profitability; strongest business fundamentals; and best sales force.
While Kraft and P&G remained the manufacturing leaders, each posted modest declines, pulled down by increased competition from cereal maker General Mills Inc. and soft drink maker Coca-Cola Co.
Campbell Soup posted the biggest overall gain, rising 3.8 points for an overall ranking of 7.7 percent, in the No. 8 spot, ahead of food maker ConAgra Foods Inc. and Anglo-Dutch consumer products maker Unilever Plc.
The survey uncovered several key factors that manufacturers must focus on to remain competitive: better understanding of consumers through tracking methods like frequent shopper cards; a continued emphasis on top brands and what they represent; making good on delivery times and other operational promises; and the activities surrounding consumers' purchasing decisions.