The impact of 'brutal' cost rises and structural changes, such as the growth of online retail, means the sector is at a crucial evolutionary stage, he said.
Cheshire said: 'We are seeing the corporate equivalent of climate change for retailers. The climate is warming up and you don't get prizes for just being around any more.'
Speaking at the Marketing Society's Retail Forum on Wednesday, Cheshire said the trends of the past few years showed no sign of abating. 'These structural factors seem likely to remain for the next 18 months,' he warned.
He identified three attributes as key to the success of future retail winners - value, newness and relationships - exemplified respectively by store groups, such as discounter Aldi, fast-fashion specialist Zara, and John Lewis and Majestic Wine - both of which have built lasting relationships with customers.
'You don't need just one of these attributes, but a combination,' said Cheshire. 'Competitive standards are going up - not down.'