To find out who was really excelling when it came to food retailing, we built an academy of global experts and asked them to nominate the supermarket and specialist retailers they felt were the best in food and drink.
From their nominations, The Grocer was able to compile two lists. And we can this week reveal that the world’s finest supermarket chains, in alphabetical order, are: Booths; Loblaw; Marks and Spencer; Maximarkt; Harris Teeter; Waitrose; Wegmans; Whole Foods Market; Wild Oats; and Woolworths SA.
The best specialists are: Carluccio’s; Dean & DeLuca; Deli de Luca; Great Food Hall; Kaufhaus des Westens; La Fromagerie; La Grande Epicerie; Peck; Trader Joe’s; and The Vinegar Factory.
From these lists of outstanding retailers, Whole Foods Market emerged as the clear favourite among our academy of global experts, which is why we have named it the best of the best, with its Columbus Circle store in New York judged to be the most outstanding outlet in its chain.
Another famous New York landmark - Dean & DeLuca - was judged to be the best of the specialist food retailers. These two US operators joined five others in the survey results - which means American retailers dominate our lists.
However, British retailers also did well, with Waitrose named as the academy’s favourite home-grown retailer.
The other British retailing businesses on the list are Booths, Marks and Spencer, Carluccio’s and La Fromagerie.
Whole Foods’ position at the top of our survey comes as the US company this week issued a sparkling set of full-year results. Its profit was up 10% to $237m on sales up 22% to $4.7bn.
The company is now preparing to open its first store in London at a 75,000 sq ft site on Kensington High Street currently occupied by House of Fraser’s Barkers store.
John Mackey, the founder, chief executive and chairman of Whole Foods Market, said that the retailer was excited about the prospect of expanding into Europe.
He said: “We believe that this spacious urban location allows us to duplicate the tremendous success we have experienced in metropolitan cities in the US, most notably New York City, by providing Londoners with a fresh and innovative choice in shopping for the most delicious and high quality foods.
“This is our first step in expanding our brand in the UK and other parts of Europe, where we believe the long-term growth potential is tremendous.”