No sooner had our man set foot in the office than the alarm sounded and everyone headed for the exit. It was only a test, but the London Fire Brigade expected a complete evacuation ­ in the rain. But while ordinary mortals have been braving the sodden British summer, UK Grocery plc's glitterati have been toughing it out in the Caribbean. There's no escape from the business, however, and they have been astonished to see an enactment of a West Indian version of the multiples' market share battle. The conflict is taking place at the local Julian's Supermarket chain, not named after our new editor but one of St Lucia's better food chains, where both Waitrose and Tesco own label products are being lapped up by the locals. The John Lewis subsidiary, incidentally, is being billed as the British royal family's favourite grocer, and that is causing a stir among shoppers. Our man at the scene overheard one shopper tell her friend: "This is the household cleaner used by the Duke of Edinburgh". Her friend snorted: "Never mind Waitrose. The Queen shops at Tesco so I'm buying their stuff." At the Provision Trade Federation annual lunch this week guest speaker DEFRA permanent secretary Brian Bender, was asked what the CB after his name signified. "Commander of the Bath," he explained. "I'm not sure quite what it used to signify. I don't get a loofah and bath plug, but my daughter is entitled to be married in Westminster Abbey." {{COUNTERPOINT }}