No change 1 Peter Marks CEO The Co-operative Group

It's been another eventful year for the outspoken Co-operative Group boss, whose interest in Somerfield also earns him a position on our main retailers list (see p30).

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Last year: 3 2 Paul Ritchie CEO Tesco Express

As head of Tesco Express, Ritchie almost automatically merits inclusion on the list. He rises to second place because, since he took the role just over a year ago, he has already added an impressive 103 stores to the Tesco Express estate, taking the total store count to 836. And there's more to come. Earlier this month, Tesco announced it was stepping up its Express expansion programme from 100 stores a year to 150.

Though the Competition Commission gave Tesco's c-store chain a clean bill of health, Ritchie is eyeing organic growth rather than acquisitions.

last year: 2 3 James Lancaster Chairman Martin McColl

Last October, Martin McColl snapped up the 97-strong Smile estate and Lancaster has made no secret of his desire to grow the UK's biggest independent retail chain still further.

Despite having the resources for a spending spree, the charismatic Northerner is likely to bide his time before he makes further acquisitions. The group recently denied industry rumours that it was for sale but admitted looking to refinance in a bid to continue its rapid growth.

Last year: 4 4 Neil Turton CEO Nisa-Today's

After two years of turmoil and infighting at Nisa-Today's, the seemingly unflappable Turton claims the buying group has become "stronger and better".

He keeps his fourth place because of the group's return to stability and its excellent sales growth over the past year. Turton is now drawing up plans for its future, including a major recruitment drive and expansion into the Republic of Ireland. He is also working on enhanced benefits for its independent retailers, as well as a new initiative to offer shoppers lower prices on fresh products.

New entry 5 Dido Harding Head of convenience Sainsbury's

Harding took up the reins of Sainsbury's c-store division from Lawrence Christensen this March and expectations of the former Tesco development director and rising star are high - hence her lofty position on the list.

Sainsbury's believes Harding's combination of marketing, trading and operational experience makes her ideally placed to take the c-store division to the next level. It's already well on track. In February it put 36 stores deemed unsuitable for conversion from Bell's or Jacksons up for sale, but it's on course to add 100 new stores to its 300-plus convenience estate by 2010.

Last year: 9 6 Jerry Marwood Managing director Spar UK

Marwood beat off stiff competition from the likes of Sir Terry Leahy and Justin King to win The Grocer Cup for Outstanding Business Achievement in October last year - the first c-store figure to receive the accolade in its 10-year history.

The outspoken MD, who is also chairman of the Association of Convenience Stores, has since unveiled plans for a big push into the food-to-go sector with in-store noodle bars and self-service coffee machines. He is also overseeing Spar's £3.7m ad campaign - its biggest ever - attacking the supermarkets' move into convenience.

Last year: 10 7 Steve Fox Director of Premier Development, Booker

While boss Charles Wilson has been taking the plaudits for the recovery at Booker and takeoever of Blueheath, Fox has been steadily revamping the wholesaler's Premier symbol group over the past three years and improving the offer for Booker's other independent retail customers. He's done a good job restoring Premier's shine, as testified by its increased sales. He's also introduced longer opening hours and easier payment options, all of which has elevated him three places in this year's list.

New entry 8 Scott Wharton Supply chain director Musgrave Retail Partners GB

Wharton only joined Musgrave Retail Partners GB in January last year, but retailers are already raving about his new initiatives. In his bid to create "the best convenience supply chain in the UK from a cost, availability and service perspective", he has introduced planograms customised to individual store layouts, paperless picking and evening deliveries.

new entry 9 Colin Graves Chairman Costcutter

The gruff Yorkshireman has been a champion of independent retailers for 37 years and had to think long and hard about his decision last year to sell a controlling stake in Costcutter to distribution and logistics giant Bibby Line Group.

The Costcutter chairman is confident, however, that the deal to sell to Nisa-Today's distribution partner has put an end once and for all to speculation that Costcutter could sell to a rival and leave Nisa to carry on without its biggest and most important member.

New Entry 10 Yvonne Rankin Chief executive Thresher Group

Rankin, who took up the reins at Thresher Group last July, is the first female to make it on to our c-stores list. This March, she unveiled ambitious plans to develop a 300-strong c-store estate over under The Local banner in the wake of trials with both top-up and full convenience offers. Rankin has a tough job on her hands, though, given Thresher's track record in this LOCAL RETAILER Peter Marks, Co-op Group

Peter Marks has topped the local retailers list for the second year running and, if anything, the straight-talking Co-operative Group boss deserves the top spot even more than last year.

After months of speculation, he revealed in April that the group was in "serious discussions" to buy Somerfield - a deal that would transform the UK's biggest co-operative society into the UK's fifth-largest supermarket and the runaway leader in the convenience store sector, with 3,123 stores, sales of £8.1bn and a market share of about 7%.

If he can pull it off, the deal would be a major coup for Marks, who has been trying to propel the co-op movement back into the big league for some time.

But it's already been a massive year for the group following its merger with United Co-operatives last July.

Since the former CEO of United Co-op took on the top job at the enlarged group, he has wasted no time in aligning its food stores under one fascia. More than 700 food stores will be re-branded by the end of the year at the rate of 15 a week.

And as the most vocal advocate for a single co-op, Marks is finally getting the support of smaller co-op societies. Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society, Midcounties Co-operative Society and Lothian Borders & Angus Co-operative Society have chosen to adopt the new fascia, while Plymouth & South West Co-operative Society is trialling it. Perhaps the promise of like-for-like sales growth of 13.7% witnessed by The Co-operative Group in rebranded stores was too much to resist.

Marks has also made sure the co-op movement has maintained its ethical credentials. In a Co-operative Group-led initiative, 100,000 members were consulted about a new ethical food policy under which the society has scrapped battery-farmed eggs and converted its entire own-label hot beverages range to Fairtrade.