pursuit n Global retailing appears an unstoppable force and one that will gather pace in the wake of September 11 as like-minded' countries do more business together The notorious terrorist attacks of September 11 could prove a double-edged sword for retailers around the world. While fear may force some global retailers to shelve expansion plans in areas at risk of civil unrest, or even armed conflict ­ such as Carrefour and its ambitions to spread into the Middle East ­ elsewhere in the world, trade between like-minded countries could increase and, in the process, speed up global trade, according to a new report, Global Retailing 2002, published by the IGD. The report identifies countries with a higher risk of conflict as those where more than half the population is of the Muslim faith or where they are close to larger Muslim populations. These include Israel, India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Outside those markets, the future looks bright for the global food and drink industry. The IGD estimates that it will increase its worth by 26.9% between 2000 and 2005 to reach $3,550bn (up on $2,800bn). However, not everyone will benefit ­ it believes the top 12 European retailers will increase their combined market share from 37.4% to 60.5% by 2010. The report reveals that although there may be real concerns surrounding future commerce, very little has changed in the fortunes of the top retailers. Like last year, its global retail index puts Carrefour in the top spot, followed by Ahold, Wal-Mart, Metro and Tesco (the index uses several factors to assess a company's dominance, such as the number of countries of operation, percentage of foreign sales and clarity of global strategy.) The IGD reckons that Carrefour, Ahold and Wal-Mart are all well placed to continue their development at the top of the chart and, with other big competitors, progressively expand their operations or capacity to operate on an international platform. Since last year, Ahold has narrowed the gap between Carrefour ­ with the increase in its global culture ­ while Tesco has overtaken Japan's Ito Yokado. The IGD says Tesco has greatly reinforced its image as an international player. "And the rapid growth of its international operations and international culture is reflected in the ranking." Its joint venture with Safeway in the US has given it a foothold in the NAFTA region and the UK firm has also demonstrated an ability to adapt its globalisation strategy to different market conditions. Marks and Spencer fell three positions after it divested European and American operations, while Sainsbury's slight decline reflected its withdrawal from Egypt. The Asia Pacific region is set to enjoy the biggest growth, mostly driven by China, which will offer the single largest opportunity for grocery retailers anywhere in the world. Currently Carrefour is well placed to capitalise on this ­ it is among the top three retailers in China. The IGD reckons that although there are 2,000 hypermarkets in China, its population of 1.2bn could support at least 9,100 hypermarkets. Eastern Europe is expected to resemble the west as key players expand, while competition is likely to increase in the "retail battlefields" of Poland, Mexico and Japan. The IGD predicts that retailers will think about the global market in terms of market type and have a "balanced portfolio" of advanced, developed and emerging markets with both short and long term potential. Global sourcing will also have a major impact on branded multi-nationals, as retailers move towards global and regional contracts for international brands. This will involve a closer relationship between supplier and retailer in areas such as product development and promotions, while retailers will benefit from lower unit costs. There will also be collaboration on a local level between retailers and suppliers of all sizes for so-called "local jewels". The IGD says that to continue its market dominance Carrefour must enter key countries (the US) and reinforce its presence in northern Europe (in the UK and Germany) and will probably be one of the few global retailers to establish a market presence in all global regions. It says Ahold has a strong strategy for continued growth in Europe, NAFTA and South America ­ but a question mark hangs over its ability to make continued successful deals in these regions. A return to Asia isn't ruled out. Wal-Mart must strengthen its position in Europe and Asia if it is to transform to a truly global retailer, says the IGD. Tesco has an "obvious gap in mainland Europe where...only a merger or acquisition of/with another leading European player would ensure a significant presence ­ but there are no obvious partners". It continues: "Whether Tesco can establish itself in Japan ahead of other retailers is a key question...but with its continued market leadership in the UK, Tesco has the ability to continue funding its international organic growth-led expansion." But it says it is the other key markets, such as France, Germany, Japan and the US, where the long term global position of Tesco will be decided. Whatever the future brings, the IGD concludes that there won't be a clear global winner by 2010 (or indeed, ever). Although many companies have the vision ­ few have the resources. {{FEATURES }}