1 Sir Terry Leahy CEO Tesco
He isn't just the most powerful retailer in the UK. As the CEO of the world's third-largest retailer, Sir Terry is grocery's colossus, credit crunch or not.
new entry 2 Peter Marks CEO The Co-operative Group
Marks has had a massive year without a doubt and can rightly be found at the top of our local stores list (see p36). But the transformation of The Co-operative Group is so total, the execution so impressive, and the plans so exciting, he demands to sit on the top table alongside the big four.
Since merging United Co-op in July, Marks has integrated the two businesses with astonishing speed and, rebranding and refitting the estate, the change management programme contrasts strikingly with Morrisons' painful experience with Safeway.
Like-for-like sales growth in rebranded stores is in double digits, the old 'divi' has been reinvented, attracting a younger crowd to the aisles, and its pioneering eco-credentials have been updated successfully in response to the new green programmes of Tesco, M&S and allcomers.
Most intriguing, however, is that Marks believes he's found the right formula for the Co-op's supermarket estate. If this problem can be solved it could enable Marks to swallow Somerfield whole. At the very least, as the only bidder in the auction process that has started, Marks has everyone from Asda's Andy Bond to Waitrose managing director Mark Price on tenterhooks. Power indeed. last year: 8
last year: 8 3 Marc Bolland CEO Morrisons
It's not just with the ladies that Bolland has caught the eye. Analysts have cooed as the smooth Dutchman has helped return the business to form as profits rose 66% to £612m on sales up 4% to £13bn. As long as Sir Ken was in charge there was a suspicion Bolland was his patsy, especially as he had no retail experience. But in refreshing the brand and the stores, Bolland has wasted none of the experience he gained during two decades with Heineken, and there can be no doubt he's running the show now. After leaving rivals in its wake over Christmas with 9.5% growth, he's kept up the momentum, outperforming the market for the fifth consecutive month.
no change 4 Andy Bond CEO Asda
It's been a mixed year for Asda's Andy Bond. Having kickstarted the auction for Somerfield, the bid has become rather half-hearted, and he now appears to want to make selective acquisitions only. He's also suffered the loss to Wal-Mart of COO Dave Cheesewright, once again, and the position remains unfilled, while the closure of its 11 George stores reflects the disappointing performance of the clothing business in the past year. But the grocery business has come on in leaps and bounds. As well as adding more big format stores to its estate than its rivals, it's extended its range of organics and fresh produce to appeal to a more upmarket audience. But it's the price positioning of Asda that's most compelling right now. As Bond says, with everyone feeling the squeeze, this will be a good year for Asda.
LAST YEAR: 2 5 Justin King CEO Sainsbury's
Under King's leadership, Sainsbury's has achieved 13 successive quarters of like-for-like sales growth. But with private equity losing interest in the supermarket chain, the share price reflects more realistically the work still to be done. Margins are around the 3% mark - lower than the store's main rivals. And sitting at the premium end of the scale, King's new plan, From Recovery To Growth, based on £3.5bn sales growth by 2010, will be tough in this current economic climate.
last year: 3 6 Sir Stuart Rose CEO Marks & Spencer
As this was written, shares in M&S languished 7p below the 400p indicative offer tabled by Sir Philip Green three years ago.
Despite the £1bn profits announced this month, Sir Stuart is back to square one
Resilient as ever, his plans include: stocking 350 external food brands, doubling sales of the upmarket Autograph clothing range to £600m, and opening up to 300 new Simply Food stores while cutting overheads by £50m.
But with negative like for likes on food, and 'Project Genocide', as it's been dubbed, leading to near-open revolt among suppliers, Rose isn't as virtuous as he was.
LAST YEAR: 6 7 Paul Foley Managing Director Aldi
Tesco currently has 9,000 products on promotion, more than at any time in its history. Is it feeling the threat of Aldi?
Foley certainly thinks so. Annual sales have risen from £1.3bn last year to £1.5bn this year, and in the last three months sales are up 25% year-on-year thanks to the credit crunch and excellent advertising (don't change your lifestyle, change your supermarket) and strong promotions. And it plans to treble its estate to 1,500 stores, even middle-class consumers are splitting their weekly shop between Waitrose and Aldi, Foley reckons, stocking up on fine foods and wines at low prices.
LAST YEAR: 10 8 Mark Price Managing Director Waitrose
A credit crunch isn't ideal for a premium-priced, ethically sourcing, super-organic supermarket, but Price, the likeable Waitrose CEO, believes the outlook is still rosy, arguing that consumers will eat in more.
He's also confident for the long term. With sales up 6.8% to £3.95bn, and like-for-likes up 3.65%, the 'chubby grocer' thinks the JLP arm can double sales to £8bn in the next 10 years, and, having launched 20 stores in the UAE this year, plans to launch 100 medium-format stores in market towns. Other formats to be trialled may include convenience stores. ew new entry
new entry 9 Tim Steiner CEO Ocado
Posting losses for seven consecutive years since its launch, the UK's first online grocery chain has had its critics, not least Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy. But last November Ocado became EBITDA-profitable for the first time - proof the business works. Is this the tipping point? Steiner certainly seems to think so, and the confidence is palpable, launching an aggressive campaign to match Tesco's branded prices, while predicting Ocado sales will accelerate from today's annual sales of £325m to £1bn by 2011. Having reconfigured the Hatfield HQ, this will be achieved without the need for a second distribution centre, with significant implications for profitability, but Steiner admits he will also look to find a second site in the future.
new entry 10 Richard Lancaster Managing Director Netto
Radical changes have taken place at Netto since Lancaster came on board as MD in January 2007, with an extensive store refurbishment programme and a broader product range. The overarching objective is to reposition the discounter as a mainstream supermarket, and combined with the company's traditional price focus, Netto looks well placed. Lancaster, who joined the business from Sainsbury's, says the changes, as well as rapid expansion - Netto plans to open 25 stores a year - will push sales up to the £1bn mark during 2010.top retailer Sir Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco
Sir Terry will be hard to shift from any Power List, retail or not. In February, Esquire magazine put him 22nd in its list of 50 People Who Control Your Life. We're surprised he didn't rank higher.
With Tesco controlling 33% of the UK's food and household goods market, and sales up 11% to £51.2bn, he seems to find ever more fingers to stick in ever more pies.
There can't be a single business sector that doesn't fear Sir Terry's ambition. Outside food retail Tesco is taking on Apple's iTunes online music store with its own download service. Last year, the company moved into estate agency and recently won control of Dobbies garden centres. The latest wheeze is taking on the plumbers, with a lagging service for less than £200.
Yet none of this activity seems to have derailed the focused growth that has taken Tesco from number two food retailer in the UK to number three in the world.
Fresh & Easy, Tesco's US c-store operation, suffered teething troubles following its launch last October, and the British press, detecting at last a chink in its armour, slavered over the story like a pack of wolves. But Leahy remained unmoved by the criticism and, while expansion was put on hold temporarily, he insists this arm could soon be bigger than the UK.
Sir Terry's international ambitions were further underlined in May with a near-£1bn deal to buy 36 former Carrefour stores in South Korea. This strengthened Tesco's already envious position in South Korea - the group's largest market outside the UK.
A month before that deal, Tesco reported record full-year pre-tax profits of £2.8bn, up 5.7% on last year. Few people will doubt Sir Terry's ability to take those profits above £3bn in the next 12 months. And with more than half of Tesco's growth in trading profit now coming from overseas, each small step further into international territory will be seen as significant. Every little helps, you might say.
It would be wrong to say Sir Terry is all-powerful. Food price inflation is a major irritant; his rivals at the big four have got their acts together; and, as the credit crunch bites, the hard discounters have rattled Tesco. But Sir Terry not only relishes competition, as the architect of Tesco's global expansion he is both hedging the business yet creating new opportunities for growth.