The Grocer team undertook exhaustive research to determine the key players, from the bosses of the biggest retailers and manufacturers to opinion formers, commodity traders, bankers, celebrity chefs and NGOs.
After weeks of painstaking deliberations, we present the rankings, kicking off with a controversial number one...
1) Martin Lewis, founder, Moneysavingexpert.com
"His following is biblical," said Tesco UK CEO Richard Brasher of the former stand-up comedian and his hugely popular moneysavingexpert website in March.
And with five million subscribers to his free weekly emails, a weekly News of the World column, and regular appearances on ITV's Daybreak, we believe Lewis currently tops even Tesco in terms of power.
In truth, this top spot finish is as much about the burgeoning power of the consumer as it is about the man himself. In the age of the internet, a shopper can now compare prices instantly, online, or even in-store via their mobile phones.
But Lewis is the man at the front who waves the consumer flag, rallies the troops and shows them the way. In the process, his website (tagline: 'Cutting your costs, fighting your corner') has pioneered not only rival sites such as hotdealsuk.com; it has superseded Which?, Watchdog and the nationals as the consumer's ultimate champion.
Lewis is happy to acknowledge he is very much part of a movement. To Brasher's comments, Lewis responded modestly: "While the comment is attributed to me, it is of course about the site and the weekly email rather than me as an individual. I suppose if the boss of Tesco is sitting up and taking note, we're certainly mainstream now."
And if Brasher was sitting up and taking note in March, one can only imagine his reaction in April, when Lewis alerted his army of followers to a new arbitrage-based website called trolleychecker.com, which had been developed by a Martin Lewis disciple called David Whitehouse.
Designed to take advantage of a flaw in Tesco's Double the Difference promotion, what was launched in a blaze of expensive publicity and intended as a knockout blow to Asda's 10% cheaper Price Guarantee rebounded in Tesco's startled face, as it was forced within days to pull the promotion. Tesco pinned the blame firmly on Lewis's flock, describing them as a "cottage industry of savvy and determined people", and praising them through tightly gritted teeth on their "ingenuity".
The money saving spreads far and wide, offering tips on services from credit cards and personal loans to the phone bill. He even helps people save money on top of saving money, offering free downloads of PPI refund letter templates to avoid engaging the services of reclaiming agencies.
Swapping simple but highly effective tips such as this makes Lewis a consumer champion, but it also makes him desperately unpopular with businesses, and not just big ones. "The man is a nightmare," says one high-street travel agent. "I am fed up with people coming in off the street demanding a reduction in a holiday because he has been on TV going on about the price you could, or should, be paying. We operate on seriously tight margins."
Retailers large and small will need to take a hard look at the increasingly powerful role of this consumer movement. As Sir Jack Cohen would have testified, a cottage industry made up of determined people, inspired by a strong leader, will grow increasingly more powerful every day.
In a recent interview, Clarke admitted that his father, a former Tesco store manager, still calls after work to offer Tesco's new CEO feedback on local in-store execution. Clarke reportedly told his dad to "give me a break".
One wonders what the response of Richard Brasher (qv) will be to similar feedback. Clarke has promised to leave his highly rated UK CEO alone as he focuses on global execution and expansion. But Clarke knows the UK is pivotal to Tesco. And his admission at last month's results announcement that the UK business was "below par" plus the fact he will be based in the UK for 180 days of the year suggests he will find it hard not to offer feedback, especially given the toughest trading conditions in living memory.
To take over from Sir Terry Leahy is an awe-inspiring challenge, but as he looks to stamp his authority on Tesco and deliver his vision in a whirlwind 90-day tour of the £68bn-sales operation Clarke knows his reputation is there to lose if UK performance doesn't improve.
In the hot seat at Diageo for over a decade, Walsh seems busier than ever. Having turned Diageo into the world's foremost alcoholic drinks group, and supported by a strengthening share price, he experienced some Turkish delight in February, securing the group's biggest deal in over a decade with the acquisition of Mey Içki Turkey's leading spirits producer for a cool £1.3bn; and expressing interest in Stock and José Cuervo.
Having expanded distribution into China and India last year, the performance of Diageo closer to home has also been impressive, with strong innovation surrounding the Smirnoff brand in particular. It helps that alcoholic drinks is one of the few categories where supermarkets are prepared to invest their own margin, and Diageo is also well placed, as a predominantly spirits-based manufacturer, as the government has focused taxation, in the main, on brewers.
It looked like a hospital pass when Andy Bond announced he was standing down at the start of 2010. Trading over Christmas had been a disaster, and the appointment of Clarke as Asda's new CEO prompted CMO Darren Blackhurst to walk out, leaving Clarke with vacancies in trading and stores.
After a nervy start, in which commentators inaccurately suggested that Clarke had committed "a Ratner", he introduced a dramatic relaunch of more than 3,500 food lines under the Chosen by You brand, and signed up Walmart's Charles Redfield and former Tesco man Simon King as COO.
But it's the launch of the new, improved Asda Price Guarantee that catapults Clarke up this year's list. Supported by Walmart, this game-changer has rattled Tesco's cage on its home turf, and caused all the big four to sit up and take notice. He's also made some brave commitments to the Responsibility Deal.
Marc who? Although Bolland will be credited for turning Morrisons round after its troubles with the Safeway integration, Philips is quickly establishing himself as the man to take the chain to the next level. Operating at breakneck speed, he's a man on a mission.
As well as delivering a 13% hike in annual profits to £869m, he's made some key hires, including the highly rated Richard Hodgson (qv) as commercial director, while investing in existing senior management through costly training; tackled online expansion with two unexpected but interesting acquisitions non-food retailer Kiddicare and a 10% stake in US online grocer FreshDirect; launched trials to explore c-store options; and appeased nervous shareholders with a £1bn share buyback.
Perhaps as significant is how he has changed supplier perceptions of Morrisons. Leading suppliers are understood to have switched from a 'Tesco plus two" strategy to "Tesco plus three".
Sainsbury's has benefited from a heavily South East-based bias, but King a masterful politician and a great marketer has also cleverly avoided the messy price war between Asda and Tesco, as Sainsbury's continues to capture the public imagination with promotions such as 'Five Family Meals for £20' and 'Feed your Family for £50'.
Sainsbury's was the clear winner over the key Christmas period, defying the snow to post a 3.6% increase in like-for-likes, and although there was a slight hiccup in Q4 sales (up just 1%), full-year like-for-likes rose 2.3%, total sales were up 7.1% to £22.9bn and profits soared 12.8% to £827m.
Speculation has been rife that King will quit soon, with the Paralympics 2012 a final swansong. But the departure of King's heir apparent, Darren Shapland, suggests to us that King is in no hurry to leave. The question is: how far north will he go?
It's been a testing couple of months for Brasher since he took over as Tesco's UK CEO. The full-year results for Tesco's UK operations were underwhelming, with group CEO Philip Clarke admitting Tesco "hadn't been leading" and "must do better". What with the recent Price Check débâcle and riots in Bristol centring around the opening of a new Tesco Express, brows have been furrowed both internally and externally over its embattled situation.
Entrusted with Tesco's crown jewels, Brasher's record on strategy and innovation during a brilliant Tesco career is second to none; but you're only as good as your last game, and while Tesco mobile and Tesco bank look set, there's a real job to be done to tackle the price and PR war with Asda on both the grocery and non-food side, with an increasingly reactive business crying out for distinctiveness and direction.
Withstanding intense competition, weak consumer confidence and rising commodity costs to post an 18% rise in full-year profits earlier this year, Unilever has become a more agile beast, says former P&G and Nestlé man Paul Polman.
It's also, if we may say so, a more dynamic business, as Polman has set ambitious growth targets for the UK-based multinational group, and reshuffled the leadership pack to expose talented executives who had been buried in the layers of corporate bureaucracy. Acquisitions such as Sara Lee, Tigi and Alberto Culvert suggest a greater focus on high value-added. And organic growth in the UK has also been delivered via some exciting innovation, now under the aegis of Amanda Sourry (qv).
Polman's leadership also extends to the environment, signing Unilever up to an 'unprecedented' sustainability agenda.
Only Aldi and Lidl are growing faster than Waitrose, as a mix of strong like-for-likes and a robust store expansion programme deliver the goods for the Chubby Grocer.
Following on from Waitrose Essential in 2009, Price signed up Delia and Heston last March in what proved a double-headed dream ticket. More recently he adopted Ocado's Tesco price-matching high-low strategy to winning effect, and has launched further tertiary own-label brands, from Seriously to Good to Go, to delight his upmarket audience.
With the strategy set fair, Price can now bring home the bacon, rolling out stores in the Channel Isles. And talking of channels, Price has also invested £10m and opened a 100,000 sq ft virtual store this year, to take on its partner, Ocado, within the M25. Coupled with Price's plans to grow its convenience business, Waitrose is now a scaleable partner for suppliers.
He was once known as the Chicken King as he built his 2 Sisters group from a standing start, in 1993, into a major player supplying 20% of UK-reared chickens to the likes of Tesco, M&S and KFC thanks to his iron-like commitment to service, a can-do attitude and unwavering discretion.
That was before Ranjit Singh moved into fish, snapping up Five Star, Fishworks and Harry Ramsden's fish & chip shop chain. Still, at least he was still the Protein King.
With his surprise swoop on Northern Foods this year deucing highly rated Greencore boss Patrick Coveney (qv) Singh is now the King of the Conglomerates, adding biscuits, frozen pizza and a ready meals business to his empire. Now the market must wait to see how much power his value-added acquisition can exert on customers; and how quickly he can pay off the debt.See p64
Since Bolland's arrival he's rightly focused on fashion. But having made some key operational hires, including online supremo Laura Wade-Gery (qv) from Tesco, restructuring has recently heralded both the arrival of Rob Lewis to head up food branding, and the departure of commercial director Jim Waller. And recent strong direction on exclusivity helped turn round food.
Only Tesco can better the buying terms of Compass. And where once the world's largest contract caterer was being battered for serving Turkey Twizzlers to school kids, and issuing a string of profit warnings (as poorly integrated acquisitions unravelled), the turnaround under Cousins has raised £3bn through disposals and put Compass very much on the front foot.
As Coca-Cola's bottler, you might not expect the EVP and president of CCE Europe to feature quite this highly in our Power 100, but following his promotion last October, Patricot is regarded as John Brock's heir apparent. What's more, with Brock now in apparent isolation in Atlanta, it surely paves the way for the UK-based Patricot soon to head up the business... from London.
Booker's market cap, up 58% y-o-y, is nudging the £1bn mark. No-one is in any doubt why. Wilson, winner of The Grocer Cup last October, continues to excel, delivering sales growth across all channels. Booker's Premier fascia this week overtook Spar to become the biggest symbol making canny acquisitions while keeping £27m cash in reserve.
Walker is currently winding his way down Mount Everest, so it is unlikely he will be feeling all that powerful this week. But with Iceland's major shareholder, Landbanski, looking to sell up, negotiations for a sale of its stake will kick off in earnest on his return. And while Walker may not have all the power, with first refusal on any deal, he may just have enough.
Try talking to someone in frozen foods without mentioning Baked To Perfection - it can't be done. Same goes for Martin Glenn. Pinching Findus Italy from under the noses of Lion Capital's Lyndon Lea and Findus boss Chris Britton last summer, he's impossible to ignore, and clearly has the respect of Permira, who backed him to the hilt. Watch and learn boys.
Food like-for-likes may have slipped 2.5% last year, but despite the massive distraction of integrating Somerfield and Britannia Building Society, The Co-op Group still managed to post record profits up 48.3% to £545.7m on record sales up 9.1% to £13.7bn. And he's well-positioned to capitalise on the backlash against corporate greed, with the PM promoting co-operation.
One of only a handful of female FTSE 100 chief executives, Cooper has already impressed since taking on the top job last April. Against continued declines in cigarette sales and down-trading, half-year profits published this month were up 7% to £1.27bn. Rumours abound of consolidation. Perhaps the real test of Cooper's power will be rivals.
Power is in George Weston's blood. Born into one of the world's richest families, his appointment as CEO of ABF in 2004, at the age of 40, made him one of the youngest chief executives of a FTSE100 company. Last year he steered ABF to a 26% hike in pre-tax profits, despite the adverse impact of soaring cotton and wheat prices on Primark and Kingsmill.
Mackay joined plain old South African Breweries in the late 1970s. Since its flotation in 1999, however, he has overseen the company's transformation into a global beer behemoth, generating annual revenue in the region of $18bn. London-based, Mackay would rank considerably higher on our list but for the negligible presence of SABMiller brands here in the UK.
Ocado continues to confound analyst consensus and media scepticism. Having successfully floated Ocado on the Stock Exchange last summer and raising £200m to fund expansion co-founder and chief executive Tim Steiner has not only steered the online grocery retailer's rapid growth; he's increased the share price, despite concerted efforts to short the stock.
Power within Premier Foods such as it has been was handed to the new chairman last October, and it's been successful, with Bell lowering the debt through disposals, orchestrating Robert Schofield's resignation, and doubling the share price. Now he needs to choose Schofield's successor, with Tim Kelly the bookies' favourite. But don't rule out Ben Clarke (qv).
Bond represented Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld in the recent Parliamentary hearings, and, after taking charge of Kraft's national business units in Europe within months of the Cadbury takeover, his role recently expanded to include oversight of the European sales team following the departure of Cadbury European gum and candy chief Ignasi Ricou.
After his stunning turnaround of Stella, MacFarlane's latest triumph has been Budweiser, whose sales have risen by over 80% in the last year following his successful integration of the Anheuser-Busch business. Stella Cidre, a 2011 UK-only launch that marks the first category crossover for a beer, is more daring still, and a mark of ABI's confidence in its UK boss.
Under Healy's watch, this Irish food giant has risen to become the UK's number-one provider of own-label chilled ready meals. Kerry's been busy in frozen too, acquiring rival Headland Foods in early 2011 in a classic Kerry sting that means it effectively owns the market. It is now forcing up prices a rare example of a supplier who is dictating terms to UK supermarkets.
After 25 years at Reckitt Benckiser, Kapoor will be elevated to the hotseat on 1 September following the surprise retirement of legendary CEO Bart Becht.
Currently EVP for global category management, Kapoor led the UK and Northern Europe business to their best-ever financial performance, but the challenge of emulating Becht's polished performances over so many years is right up there with Philip Clarke's at Tesco.
One of the architects of the Boots Healthcare International acquisition in 2006, we expect Kapoor's position on the list to rise once he's in place.
Conditions in the bread category are really tough, and value sales were down 4.7% last year at Warburtons. But thanks to a superb balance sheet, Warburton has gone on the front foot, spending almost £10m on cap-ex to launch two new lines: a gluten-free range of breads and buns; and trendy unleavened products such as squarish thins, wraps and pitta bread.
The former Fallon ad executive took a while to settle in. But as the architect of the Asda Price Guarantee, Bendel has clearly had a huge bearing on the UK grocery market since the start of the year, and he gained further power within Asda and Walmart when a senior management reshuffle last month gave Bendel additional responsibility for online.
He's been dubbed Carlsberg's Mr Fixit and no wonder. Since taking over what was then the least profitable of Carlsberg's businesses in 2008, Sheps has transformed it into a major player, one that has grown its market share 6% in the past year alone and is now only just behind UK number two Heineken in the off trade (AB InBev is number one).
Self-confessed rock enthusiast Moody had plenty to make a noise about last year after steering drinks giant Britvic to a 21.5% hike in pre-tax profits, but he was playing a different tune this February when he warned profits could be hit by the soaring of plastic prices. Britvic was also involved in a spat with Sainsbury's over price increases. Brave or foolhardy?
That bosses haven't rushed to replace Hornby as Group CEO shows how much faith there is in this Boots lifer. Don't be surprised if he ends up with the top job. Gourlay remains closely involved in a trial selling lunchtime Waitrose lines in Boots and replacing Waitrose own-label health and beauty products with Boots'. Like-for-likes are up 1.7% and profits rose 5.5%.
When Sainsbury's announced this month that group development director Darren Shapland was leaving, analysts immediately touted Coupe as "the standout candidate" to succeed Justin King. Promoted from trading director to commercial director in June, Coupe is currently planning to overhaul Sainsbury's 6,500-strong standard range, his biggest yet.
Though his Retail Ventures arm hasn't been a great success, Oliver's value as the face of Sainsbury's is immeasurable. But it's not just his power to flog groceries that makes Oliver important. Recently named the TV chef most British people trust, his campaigning has boosted the fortunes of farmers, improved the health of schoolchildren, and netted Oliver a personal wealth totalling £106m.
Acquistions have slowed at Brakes but activity hasn't. It was awarded the UK's largest catering distribution contract by Compass Group, beating rival 3663 in the process, and picked up another hefty distribution contract for Mitchells & Butlers. Tough times have pushed Brakes into the lower margin logistics deals, but it all keeps the wheels turning.
Allen's strategy to add value through a strong focus on brands is working well, with Cathedral City smashing through the £200m barrier. While it has lost some own label milk volume to The Co-operative Group in the past year, Dairy Crest also gained some Tesco own label milk business, and together with Arla, signed up to supply Morrisons until 2015.
36) Younus Sheikh, MD, Bestway Cash & Carry
Sheikh has got everyone guessing on which company will be Bestway's next acquisition target. Thanks to his £5.8m acquisition spree last year, when he snapped up Bellevue and Martex, pre-tax profits have soared 16% to £46.3m with turnover up 3.6% to £1.99bn. There's still plenty left in the coffers for more acquisitions and he's definitely on the lookout.
Aldi lost its way as the supermarkets fought back, with a number of bosses following managing director Paul Foley through the revolving door. But Heini and his joint MD Matthew Barnes first steadied the ship, and now it's full steam ahead: Aldi is advertising again on primetime TV, posting record market share and leading the market in sales gains.
With 30 million Facebook users in the UK alone, brands and retailers have a phenomenal opportunity to engage with customers, and Shields is spearheading a number of initiatives: selling via the site is still in its infancy, but for major fmcg groups and retailers a Facebook page is a far cheaper and more effective alternative to hosting a website.
One of three former S&N executives parachuted in to rescue the maker of Magners Irish cider, Dunsmore is set for a big payday at the end of this year, as the share price has risen with C&C's profits. Following his swoop on Tennents, Dunsmore bought Gaymers last year to secure a new supply source in the UK, and customer service and promotions have improved, too.
The George Soros of the commodity market, Anthony 'Chocfinger' Ward sent shockwaves through the confectionery industry when his Armajaro fund spent £658m on 241,00 tonnes of cocoa beans last summer enough to make five billion bars of chocolate to effectively corner the market in the most dramatic example of external influence on ingredients.
Dawson's already powerful position, as UK MD of Mars Chocolate, was stepped up a notch in October last year when a restructure split the business from Mars' European operation and she was promoted to president. In addition to her dayjob, she is vice president of IGD and will succeed Charles Wilson as president in 2012.
Although profits and margins have recently been squeezed at the Scottish dairy processor, Wiseman has racked up a number of crucial contract wins this year, which should position it well for future growth. The company ousted Dairy Crest to win the Co-op's own-label liquid milk business, increased volumes to Tesco by 10% and extended its relationship with Sainsbury's for another three years. It's also back in with Asda, after the supermarket agreed to retain Wiseman for its ex-Netto stores.
Farmfoods commands a 0.6% share of the grocery market. It's a share the mults are desperate to get hold of but so far they've failed, and indeed media-shy Herd continues to grow the frozen discounter ahead of the market. He's also been blamed by farmers for fuelling the supermarket milk price war, selling two 2-litre cartons of milk for £1.50.
The UK business is very important to Unilever, and has totted up 14 consecutive quarters of growth against declining sales in Western Europe, and Sourry has also put her personal stamp on the business since her promotion, last spring, through NPD, launching PG Tips' The Fresh Ones; relaunching Persil Small & Mighty; and introducing Flora Cuisine, the UK's first major chilled oil brand.
UK MD since September 2010, the transformation under Gottschlich has been remarkable, presiding over the revival of the discounter following its mid-2010 slump. Lidl is currently posting double-digit sales increases and recording all-time record market shares. It also won a number of awards at The Grocer's Own-Label Food & Drink Awards this month.
Even by the standards progressive CEO Indra Nooyi has set, the UK health pledges introduced by Evans last year are brave. Luckily, the oats-based Quaker cereal business has seen strong growth; while the standards of launch and marketing execution for Walkers remain high. And the relationship with bottler Britvic remains strong.
Hugh's Fish Fight, a Channel 4 series that aired in January, was a far more comprehensive campaign than his previous anti-Tesco efforts, and has been all the more effective for it. Sales of unusual species have rocketed, and retailers and manufacturers have been forced into a rethink on fish-sourcing strategies. And the EU has abandoned the discards policy.
Clarke knows how to trim the fat at Kraft Foods UK & Ireland, he dropped comedian Dawn French from ads for its Terry's Chocolate Orange. But he's also shown, at Burton Foods, that he understands brands, and has breathed new life into the previously moribund biscuit category. A strong motivator, and friend of Ronnie Bell (qv), he may yet end up running Premier.
Sachak and his team have an enormous impact on the food and drink industry both in the UK and around the globe. In the last year Rothschild has advised on more transactions than anyone else, including a controversial role in Ranjit Singh Boparan's capture of Northern Foods and the sale of Yoplait to General Mills.
It's been a quieter year for Quincey following the acquisition of Innocent although he increased Coca-Cola's stake but he's been helping out with Innocent's European expansion, while masterminding the successful growth of other Coca-Cola brands across North West Europe. Based in Hammersmith, even bigger things beckon for Quincey, we hear.
Hodgson's somewhat protracted move from Waitrose may well have been the signing of the season, as Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips looked to add new blood to his top team.
In charge of the EU's tortured health claims legislation, Kleiner wields formidable power over existing brands and future NPD, approving just 20% of claims to date.
Recently appointed chairman of BRC Trading, the former Waitrose boss has fingers in ever-more pies, including last year's acquisition of sales and marketing agency Product Chain.
His Happy Egg Co. brand has been extended into pancake cafés, he's launched the Eggs For Soldiers campaign and moved Gü into in-store bakery and single-serve desserts.
Poundland profits rocketed by 80% in 2010, as McCarthy opened 66 stores last year, while proving there's an alternative model to remaindered stock for single-price discounters.
Lee doesn't have the power of his predecessor, Gianni Ciserani, but he's grown in confidence since his arrival, and is delivering for P&G with the precision of a Gillette blade.
Will he or won't he? King has been coming under increasing pressure to raise interest rates, having kept them at a record low of 0.5% for more than two years, despite the continuing rise in inflation.
On the other hand, there is very little he can do to stop the self-inflicted inflation brought on by commodity price rises and the government's VAT hikes. In the Bank's latest quarterly inflation report, he slashed his growth forecast for the UK, and with consumer confidence so low, the power right now is actually out of his hands.
He's been an outspoken critic of supermarket pricing, and attacked Diageo's tax plans. But Hunter has also quietly transformed profitability with canny acquisitions.
He only arrived in Leeds in September but Walmart vet Redfield is already making his mark and, along with Rick Bendel (qv), was the big winner in Andy Clarke's managerial shake-up.
Stein's philosophy is simple in the tough climate: "Heads down, keep overheads tight, provide excellent service and pick up the pieces when others fail." It's working a treat.
Forget Glencore. Goldman is much more intimately associated with the food commodity derivatives boom, and when Currie's team of commodity oracles speak, the market moves.
He presides over Kingsmill, the only major plant bread brand to show volume growth last year. NPD and a focus on convenience retail will sustain the growth, he says.
In stark contrast to Makro, sales at membership club Costco are booming up 10.3% to £1.4bn, partly thanks to a strong consumer following inspired by... MoneySavingExpert.com.
With NGOs boycotting Lansley's Responsibility Deal, it's in danger of running out of puff before it's barely out of the blocks. The alternative to co-operation is far more serious.
"We were the biggest before and we're still the biggest," said Spar chairman Blakemore on his acquisition of Capper & Co. But now with 45% of Spar's buying power, he's the man.
Analysts can't praise Cranswick enough this year, lauding the "safe haven" and "talented team" as, under Davey's captaincy, the company has ridden the recessionary seas well.
What a difference an earnout makes. Reed and his colleagues, Balon and Wright, are on top form at the moment, with focused NPD and brilliant marketing (headed by Thomas Delabriere) driving growth in smoothies, juices and food.
After being outmanoeuvred by Boparan (qv) on Northern Foods, Coveney is hungry for a deal. Chilled rival Uniq and Premier's struggling Brookes Avana are contenders.
Committed to reducing the abv of one of Heineken's core brands as part of the Responsibility Deal, it's not clear which one. Strongbow is motoring, but the beer brands are struggling.
Buying 77-strong chain Mills Group, Turner has just pulled off the biggest deal in the convenience sector in many years, and with Tesco's backing, he's more powerful than ever.
When the 'sage of Omaha' speaks, others sit up and listen. Now it's the turn of Tesco. Will Philip Clarke heed the Berkshire Hathaway boss's criticism of Fresh & Easy?
Graves founded Costcutter 25 years ago and the fascia continues to attract new members as turnover last year smashed through the £600m barrier. He's THE power player within Nisa.
Arla has signed two major long-term supply deals this year with Morrisons, until 2015; and Asda, until August 2013. Lauritzen has also vowed to make Arla a household name.
Etherington's £4.2bn company is easily the biggest in wholesaling, holds lucrative tobacco contracts with Tesco and Sainsbury's, and is growing its independent retailer base fast.
Appearing with Heston via YouTube and smartphone apps, the maiden aunt of cookery has been reinvented, and is a key ingredient in success of Waitrose.
The former Sainsbury's exec has transformed this £1.5bn-sales variety discount chain into a major grocery player and seen profits soar by 120% to £65m.
Chatha pulled off another distressed purchase with the capture of 37 Oddbins stores last month. The deal transforms his Whittalls Wine Merchants into a national player.
Market share for the Hobnobs owner was the highest in years in Q1, but newly promoted Testard hasn't been able to find an exit strategy and the group may be broken up.
For 'fear factor' Sauven's power can not be ignored, as Nestlé, Princes and Tesco can all testify. Now Sauven's team has got John West in its sights with nearly 50,000 emails sent.
Times are tough in meat, but profits at this key Tesco supplier are up 13%. Using cutting-edge production and clever diversification abroad, Hilton remains a top food pick for analysts.
The 'Waitrose of the North' deserves its reputation. It even shares the same supply chain. Two further stores are planned this year including one in swanky Media City in Salford Quays.
As recession hit, Lewis's six-bottle minimum purchase proved a turning point, pulling in new shoppers and boosting both profits and market cap (up 39% in the past year).
Mouthy Queen of Shops Portas has shown a number of independent shopkeepers the way forward on her TV programme. She's also been a champion for customer service, criticisng the likes of Tesco. Now she's advising David Cameron on saving the high street.
It's been a quiet start to the year for Nestlé's UK and Ireland CEO, as he contends with soaring commodity prices. He's now chair of the FDF's competitiveness steering group.
Turton heads a buying group with 950 members and a collective 3,500 stores that's more than even Tesco! And the group could gain further clarity if Today's members agree to split.
Profits have been hit by soaring commodity costs, but McBride's own-label innovation has delighted supermarkets and given them the power to beat up fmcg giants.
Nature Valley snack bars have been a real success story for Moseley, and he controls great brands (Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Green Giant), but the FDF president's profile is low.
Sherwood is tipped for the top job at Goldman. No wonder after floating Ocado despite so much scepticism and analyst hostility. He still has a big stake in Ocado, too.
McMeikan has barely put a foot wrong at Greggs and racked up record profits last year despite tough conditions. He now plans to open 500 new shops, create 6,000 jobs and introduce salads.
Under Dixon's watch, the focus has switched away from brands and back to (prolific) own-label innovation and, combined with better promotions, it's worked: like-for-likes rose 3.4% in Q4.
Heston-mania appears to show no sign of abating: following on from the Christmas pud, his Waitrose Royal Wedding trifle sold out. He's also made a lasting impact on Little Chef.
Having lost out to Birds Eye on Findus Italy, Britton recently rebranded The Seafood Company, Findus UK and Young's as Young's Seafood as it bids to become the UK's no1 fish business.
On the brink of bankruptcy two years ago, ready meal giant Bakkavör's Icelandic founders Lýdur and Ágúst Gudmundsson completed a £350m refinancing this year.
Analysts described the defection of Wade-Gery to M&S as a "body blow" for Tesco. While Tesco might disagree, it's a heavyweight appointment for M&S, with a seat at the board to boot.
Milner is impressing with his energy, charm and persuasiveness as he builds the premium crisp brand home and away. Could this be the next Kettle? Owner Langholm hopes so.
With the exception of babyfood, Heinz is performing tidily, with Snap Pot and Fridge Pack particular successes. Woodward recently added Africa and the Middle East to his remit.
Donal Horgan was parachuted in from the Cork HQ in to fix the 2,400-store Budgens/Londis UK business last November, as Martin has enough problems of his own back home.
Never has the role of the headhunter been more vital. And there are few who can boast the success of Mann's MWM Consulting firm which found Dalton Philips for Morrisons.
Lalani has proved the consummate entrepreneur after first building up and selling off the upmarket Europa Foods (1989) and Whistlestop (2001)convenience chains, before reinventing himself as a discounter, with his fast-growing 99p Stores one of the success stories of the credit crunch.
Snapping up Woolies stores helped fuel expansion, as did the temporary cut in VAT to 15% at the start of the recession; and the estate now numbers 143 stores, including Family Bargains, a new format. But growth has slowed, and the family is exploring a possible sale.
It was the Environment Agency that put paid to Nocton Dairies' dairy mega-herd plan, but CIWF's Cows Belong In Fields campaign was key to pitting the public against the venture.
What is Power?
Picking the players in the Power 100 is an arduous and somewhat terrifying task, as we risk causing mortal offence, and sometimes not deliberately.
The list is the result of weeks of research and deliberation, involving conversations with scores of well-connected and influential sources. But what is power? How have we ranked these individuals?
It's not just about size, which is a blunt instrument. Market cap has been a helpful guide but, of course, many of the individuals here don't work for publicly listed companies, or control subsidiaries that might be huge but whose specific results can be mired in corporate secrecy. Others NGOs, headhunters, analysts, the media may have no easy numeric value attached to them at all.
Our choices, therefore, are based on several further factors, too: the tenor of media attention, industry recognition and, above all, the influence of the individual not only on their own business but the category, rivals and the market as a whole.