The demise of Thresher and Woolies was no surprise. Recession hunts out the weak and infirm.

But who would have predicted, a year ago, that Aldi a discounter, with a strong price message would go through more bosses than Portsmouth FC? This week, numbers five and six - Matthew Barnes and Roman Heini - moved into the extra wide seat, as joint MDs.

In the meantime, who would have predicted that small supers would come so much back into fashion? A small super is neither one thing nor the other. It's a halfway house.

That was the thinking in the last decade, as all the multiples focused on building and extending supermarkets into hyperstores, on the one hand, while Tesco and Sainsbury's chose to balance this with tight little c-stores for the top-up opportunity.

Not now. Last year, as we exclusively reported, saw the launch of two independent supermarket chains. And while it's been a shaky start for Asco since its first store opened in December, Haldanes appears very much up and running, opening its 12th store, in a former Somerfield site in Glasgow, this week.

The Mills Group, a former CTN chain, has also moved into the small supers' space. And others, spurred on by the demise of Somerfield, are keen to seize on the opportunity, too, as existing independent supermarket chains report, in our Top 50 survey of independents, strong increases in sales and profits.

Even Asda now wants in on the small supers scene. After looking at Somerfield, Andy Bond concluded that he could make as much money opening one hypermarket as from a chain of 50 convenience stores.

But seeing the success of independent supermarkets, and also the excellent work of Morrisons, in the tight corners of former Somerfields, he has changed his mind. Aldi, Asco, Asda. All in the same space. There's plenty to think about.

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