The Competition Commission inquiry into grocery was another hot topic. Nobody thought the OFT would refer the sector so soon after the previous inquiry in 2000. But in March it did and ever since we've been keeping you up to date, culminating last week in revelations that Nisa-Today's had accused Tesco of colluding with suppliers to drive up costs.
That wasn't all that Tesco was accused of as rivals, interest groups and the general public lined up to take a pop at the retailer for, well, being too big. Other than that, Tesco had a great year - again, posting a succession of enviable financial results and surprising nobody with its confirmation that it planned to set up shop in the US. It was also a good year for M&S and Sainsbury's, which both sped along the road to recovery, as did Booker. Morrisons had a better year, too, finally bowing to the inevitable and integrating its supply chain with Safeway's. Asda, however, got itself into trouble for turning the screw on suppliers, while Somerfield and Kwik Save had a torrid time all round. Things didn't go according to plan for Nisa-Today's and Costcutter, either, their proposed merger falling apart amid allegations of cartel activity. On the supply side, there was plenty of M&A activity, mostly involving either private equity players or Premier Foods (we rightly identified chief exec Robert Schofield as the no1 supplier in our Power List in May). However, even if it goes ahead, as expected, the £1.2bn RHM deal still won't trump the £1.6bn paid by Blackstone and PAI for UB, or the £1.25bn paid by Permira for the bulk of Unilever's European frozen foods business.
As well as the surprise appointment of Marc Bolland as Morrisons' new chief executive, Chris Etherington, another outsider, took the reins at P&H. High-level departures included Steve Back, ousted as chief executive of Somerfield but resurfacing as joint MD of Europa Brands; Sainsbury's convenience MD Jim McCarthy, who left for Poundland; Joe Jimenez, who quit as chief executive of Heinz Europe; Morrisons MD Marie Melnyk who bowed out due to ill health; and executive chairman Dudley Ramsden, who finally took a back seat at Nisa-Today's. This was also the year we waved goodbye to Campbell's condensed soup.
Of course there have been challenges for the industry. The impact of wheat, fuel and potato prices was felt keenly by some. However, inflation also created opportunities, with retailers also benefiting from the nation's rising appetite for premium, healthy and 'natural' food.
And we almost got to see the Competition Commission's emerging thinking document, but surprise, surprise, it was delayed.