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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Big future for supermarket giants
shoppers outside a supermarket
More customers will prefer shopping at supermarkets
Supermarket giants are expected to strengthen their position as Britain's biggest retailers during the next 10 years, according to a report.

The prediction by analysts at Retail Intelligence (RI) contrasts with the fortunes of traditional traders such as Marks and Spencer which have turned sour in recent months.

The major supermarkets currently occupy the first four places of a retail leader board with combined sales of more than 46bn in 2000.

The business analysts said a decade on decade forecast showed they were also likely to lengthen their lead as consumers' favourite places to shop.

Online future

However, the superstores may have to continue diversifying and the internet is expected to play an even bigger role by 2010.

Retail Intelligence believes the online aspect - tied to a continuing high street presence - is likely to be a winner during the coming years.

Retail Intelligence: Britain's retailers
1. Tesco 16,958,000
2. J Sainsbury 13,570,000
3. Asda 9,204,000
4. Safeway 7,659,200
5. Marks & Spencer 6,482,700
6. Kingfisher 6,098,644
7. Somerfield Stores 5,465,700
8. Boots UK Retail 4,666,500
9. GUS 3,810,100
10. Dixons Group 3,377,000
11. John Lewis Partnership 3,374,400
12. W Morrison Supermarkets 2,970,100
But the outlook is not so good for stores like Marks & Spencer, with analysts warning it could slide even further down the pecking order.

An RI spokesman said the chain's problem was partly caused by its attempt to be "all things to all men", the same policy which eventually forced rival chain C&A out of business in Britain earlier this year.

"Recovery at M&S, if it is to happen at all, can only be very slow because the business has undermined the trust of its customer base," he said.

However, Marks and Spencer spokesman Louis Hill said Retail Intelligence's figures showed the chain was still the biggest clothing retailer in the UK.

He insisted the firm had the right strategy in place to reverse its fortunes after it recently posted its lowest profits for 14 years.

"We are also revamping two-thirds of our 300 stores in the next year and we have the right initiatives in place to turn the business around," he said.

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See also:

17 May 01 | Business
UK retail sales at 14-month high
20 Apr 01 | Business
UK retail sales stagnate
22 May 01 | Business
M&S profits continue to slide
02 Oct 00 | Business
Tesco restarts price war
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