Tesco back at the top 10 years on

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The Independent Online
Tesco tops the list of Britain's largest retailers, just as the supermarket giant did 10 years ago, according to a new survey. The 1997 Retail Rankings, published today by retail consultancy Corporate Intelligence, judge UK retailers by their domestic sales and the figures show that Tesco's UK retail sales of pounds 11.6bn in 1995/96 put it ahead of Sainsbury for the first time since 1986/87.

In that year, Tesco edged ahead of a rapidly growing Sainsbury thanks to the acquisition of the Hillards group. Since last year, Tesco has extended its lead with 1996/97 UK sales of pounds 13bn against Sainsbury's estimated figure of pounds 11.76bn.

The Top 20 is dominated by supermarket groups with the big four grocers - Tesco, Sainsbury, Safeway and Asda - taking the top spots followed by Marks & Spencer and Boots. The highest climber is another supermarket group, Bradford-based William Morrison, which has shot up from number 30 to 11. Retailers that have lost ground include Storehouse, Thorn and Somerfield.

The rankings show that the largest retailers have become increasingly dominant over the past decade. In 1986 the top 10 stores groups accounted for 26 per cent of total UK retail sales. Last year that figure had risen to 36 per cent. "It shows the big boys are getting bigger as consolidation in many retail sectors takes place," says Robert Clarke of Corporate Intelligence.

In terms of shop numbers the rankings show that Boots tops the table with 2,323 UK stores followed by Burton (2,118 including concessions) and Kingfisher (2,012).

Comparisons with 1987 shows the dramatic reduction in the portfolio of Sears, the former retail powerhouse which has fallen on hard times. In 1987 it had 3,682 shops, more than half as many again as its nearest rival. By last year that figure had shrunk to 1,887.

Other changes include Gallaher, part of American Brands, which had over 2,00 outlets 10 years ago but has since sold off a raft of names, including Forbouys newsagents and Dolland & Aitchison opticians.

The other big change is Next, which had 1,860 stores a decade ago compared with 304 last year. In 1987, when Next was involved in a headlong dash for growth under George Davies, its sprawling portfolio included Zales, the jeweller, Salisbury luggage shops and Allens chemists, all acquired as part of Combined English Stores.

In the Retail Rankings' list of fastest growing stores groups, measured by sales growth, Sunglass Hut, the US import, tops the list with 114 per cent sales increase between 1995 and 1996.

Top 10 UK retailers

Rank 1996 (1987) Sales

1 Tesco (1) pounds 11.6bn

2 Sainsbury (2) pounds 11.2bn

3 Safeway (5) pounds 6.1bn

4 Asda (7) pounds 6.0bn

5 M&S (3) pounds 5.9bn

6 Boots (8) pounds 4.1bn

7 Kingfisher (6) pounds 4.1bn

8 Kwik Save (19) pounds 3.3bn

9 Somerfield (4) pounds 3.2bn

10 John Lewis (9) pounds 2.5bn

Fastest sales growth

% chnge sales 1995 - 1996

Sunglass Hut (UK) +114.4

Foothold +113.4

Kingsway Scotland +102.8

Uno +86.4

Ted Baker +78.7

Byte Computer +66.8

Poundland +59.4

Blane Leisure +55.1

Allsports +54.1

D Sports +53.5