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    Top Global Retailers See Shakeup in '06: Report

    LONDON -- The latest research from Planet Retail here highlights major changes in the ranking of the world's largest grocery retailers. Its recently published "Top 30 Grocery Retailers Worldwide 2006" report and ranking ousted Dutch grocer Ahold from its top five position, with Japanese hypermarket/convenience store operator Seven & I taking its place.

    LONDON -- The latest research from Planet Retail here highlights major changes in the ranking of the world's largest grocery retailers. Its recently published "Top 30 Grocery Retailers Worldwide 2006" report and ranking ousted Dutch grocer Ahold from its top five position, with Japanese hypermarket/convenience store operator Seven & I taking its place.

    Looking ahead, by 2012 Tesco is set to overtake Metro as the world's third-largest grocer.

    Expansion into emerging markets, such as Central and Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, is fueling the growth of the Top 30, Planet Retail said.

    "Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Metro, Tesco, and Seven & I are all driving expansion on a global level," said Natalie Berg, retail analyst at Planet Retail, in a statement. "From Mexico to Malaysia, the Top 5 players are collectively present in 67 countries around the globe. While internationalization has always been a priority for the world's leading retailers, it is the liberalization of lucrative markets such as China and India that has attracted their attention in recent years."

    Wal-Mart is proof that even the big can get bigger, Planet Retail noted. The retailer ended
    2006 with a 6.3 percent share of the global market, the equivalent of its four largest competitors combined. In the U.S., its supercenter format continues to relentlessly plough across the grocery market.

    Carrefour, the world's most international retailer, managed to offset struggling business in countries such as Italy and Taiwan, with strong operations in markets such as China, Greece, Poland, Spain, Colombia, Argentina, and Indonesia coupled with improved performance at home.

    Wholesale to retail group Metro experienced its strongest year of growth since 1998, underpinned by a growing number of cash & carries in emerging countries and hypermarket expansion across Europe.

    Meanwhile, Tesco continues to defy the competition with an increasingly diverse portfolio of stores and markets, embracing food to non-food and bricks and mortar to online. Its rising presence is being felt across Europe and Asia, with entry into the U.S. later this year.

    Looking ahead, not to be ignored is U.S. warehouse club operator Costco, said Planet Retail. Costco is continuing a rapid assent up the rankings with its extraordinarily productive store base driving growth. Close behind is its compatriot Target, which believes that it has at least another decade of growth before resources in its home market become exhausted.

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