Introduction Retail practitioners, historically, havebeen suspicious of strategy. SirKenMorrison, chairman of family-run Morrisons supermarkets in the UK, is on record as saying that running supermarkets is simple. Sir Ken reportedly has little time for fancy theories or clever marketing: ‘It’s just taking money off people, isn’t it? And giving them something in return’ (Mail on Sunday, 2002). Marketers and economists used to share this somewhat folksy view, in effect regarding retailers as mere ciphers in the distribution channel, working as intermediaries just to smooth the ﬂow of goods and services between suppliers and consumers. Then it became clear that in practice, retailers were able to become much more active agents in their own right within the value chain than was sometimes suggested. Indeed, the ﬂows of people, goods and money through the retail supply chain make the sector’s businesses someof themost inﬂuential corporateplayers in the economies of developed countries. In 1999, for example, European retail trade generated sales of d1518 billion; created d292.5 billion in added value and employed 12.4 million people (European Commission, 2003).