last year: 9

1Peter Marks Chief executive United Co-op

The plain speaking veteran of

the Co-operative Movement has shot up the power rankings this year to take the number one

spot after masterminding the

creation of a 'super co-op', which will boast a turnover of a cool £9.4bn.

see right???

last year: 10

2James Lancaster chairman Martin McColl

Under Lancaster, Martin McColl, which owns more than 1,200

convenience stores and CTNs, continues to employ an

aggressive strategy both in terms of its rapid store refurbishment programme and expansion. It recently snapped up a handful of stores in Scotland from Somerfield but is still searching for a chain to acquire. Lancaster is kn0wn for his acquisitive streak and his ability to drive a hard bargain, and refusal to pay over the odds.

new entry 3Paul Ritchie OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Tesco Express

Ritchie took over the reins at Tesco Express in April after the surprise departure of last year's neighbourhood number one

Colin Holmes. All eyes will now be on him to see whether he can fill his predecessor's sizeable shoes But for now, his primary concern will be driving the store expansion programme while trying to avoid falling foul of the many local action groups

voicing their opposition to the retailer.

last year: 6 4Neil Turton chief executive Nisa-Today's

Turton is just about managing to put the group's annus horribilis behind him. Most of Nisa-Today's members are pleased with his efforts, and with good reason. Turton has secured a fresh commitment from Costcutter to honour the remaining eight years of its contract, introduced the popular New Era Trading Terms, increased volume through central distribution and improved the group's profitability by 1%.

last year: 4 in multiples 5Steven Esom head of food Marks & Spencer

A surprise entry on the neighbourhood retail list, following his shock exit from Waitrose in April to join the Stuart Rose revolution at Marks & Spencer. Esom, who was reportedly on the lookout for a new job as soon as he missed out to Charlie Mayfield for the job of JLP chairman, is considered by many industry observers to be Rose's heir apparent. But his immediate priority will be to drive Rose's ambitious expansion plans for its food business, including the opening of 100 new Simply Food outlets this year, 60 of which will be on BP forecourts.

new entry 6Matthew Hughes joint managing director Bargain Booze

A new shark is about to enter the convenience store waters. Hughes has made no secret of the fact that the main purpose of Bargain Booze's new convenience format, details of which are set to be revealed later this summer, is to take on the likes of Spar, Londis and Costcutter. With the backing of private equity firm ECI Partners he is likely to be a force to be reckoned with.

last year: 2 7Colin Graves chairman Costcutter

Graves missed out on becoming chief executive of a merged Costutter and Nisa-Today's when the deal collapsed last October. However he remains a key player in the sector and with Icelandic investment bank Kaupthing still holding a 20% stake, eyes are firmly fixed on York to see what his next move will be.

last year: 3 8Lawrence Christensen head of convenience, Sainsbury's

The former logistics guru is going to be one of the busiest men in retail over the next year. His to-do list includes converting the Bell's and Jacksons fascias to Sainsbury's Local to create "one team, one price, one range and one IT system". And then there is the hunt for more stores - last month Sainsbury's outlined ambitions to add a further 100 to its 298-strong convenience estate by March 2010. His game plan is characteristically bold: to split the multiple's convenience operation into three regional divisions.

last year: 4 9Jerry Marwood managing director Spar UK

With 2,724 stores, Spar UK remains the biggest brand in the convenience store sector. Marwood has been a central figure in transforming it into a fresh, modern brand. Marwood is also a key player within the Association of Convenience Stores as it continues to tackle the intricacies of the Competition Commission's grocery market inquiry. At the same time he is central to one of the most interesting partnerships in the sector - a buying alliance with the Co-operative Group.

New entry 10Steve Fox retail director Booker

A revitalised Booker has been good news for retailers trading under its Premier fascia. While numbers have remained static around the 2,000 mark, Fox has overseen a major improvement in the quality and loyalty of retailers using the Premier brand. Last year Premier sales were up 14% while its promotional compliance levels reached a high of 90%. With the group now taking its delivered wholesale operations more seriously following the Blueheath deal, it will be fascinating to see how the group adds to its retail offer.