As this is the last issue of The Grocer for 2002, it seems appropriate to reflect on what can only be described as one hell of a year for the industry. For proof, just turn to page 38. There you will be able to read what top retailers and suppliers, and other leading opinion formers, think have been the key issues of the year ­ and what they forecast will be topping their business agendas in 2003.
For me, three key issues really stand out. First, and definitely most important, is the deflationary spiral into which retailers and grocery suppliers now seem locked. As we have argued in these pages for much of the year, the deflationary pressure now being experienced is not good news for the industry as a whole. If nothing else, it has resulted in a renewed focus on finding new ways of cutting costs and streamlining business operations, which in turn have been the real driving force behind contentious issues such as factory gate pricing and online auctions. Clearly, these issues are not going to disappear in 2003. So it is somewhat reassuring that many of those business leaders featured on page 38 are still able to talk about the need to continue investing and innovation.
The second key issue of the year was reaching its climax as The Grocer went to press on Thursday ­ with publication of the government's strategy for food and farming in the light of Sir Don Curry's report. It has taken too long to get to this point, and the debate will continue to rumble on well into 2003.
My third big issue of 2002 came late in the day ­ Tesco's bid for T&S Stores. As we went to press for the final time this year, we were waiting to hear what the OFT has to say about this particular deal. Whether the OFT decides to block the bid or let it through, the decision will have far-reaching implications for the entire industry.
All three issues will affect the way you do business in 2003. And our New Year's Resolution for readers is that we will continue to make sure The Grocer provides you with news, comment, insight and analysis about these issues ­ and everything else that comes along. We'll be back on January 4. But don't forget to log onto for all breaking news ­ including that OFT verdict.