A three-way merger between Jersey based Le Riche Group, Ann Street and CI Traders has created a major new force in Channel Islands grocery. The combined operation will run 41 food stores in Jersey and Guernsey plus related businesses including food wholesale, pubs, hotels, baking and brewing. Le Riche's stores md Kevin Keen said Ann Street's Island Shopper c-stores would add scale to the food retail operation, while the merger would also create "substantial synergies in business operations and property management". Le Riche is also embarking on a major overhaul of its supply chain to improve efficiency and reduce the number of direct deliveries, added Keen. Pilots of sales based ordering begin this year, and a new supply chain project manager has been tasked with overseeing a shift towards centralised distribution for fresh foods. The move follows the success of a scheme to distribute beers, wines and spirits from a warehouse in Portsmouth, which has substantially reduced stockholding and allowed Le Riche to defer local duties until products hit shelves. While there is no silver bullet to tackle the 70% staff turnover rate at Le Riche's Stores ­ not unusual in a labour market as tight as the Channel Islands ­ said Keen, initiatives are under way to improve staff retention. {{NEWS }}