Competition claims casualties
The number of food, drink and tobacco retailers has almost halved over the past 11 years, according to corporate recovery firm Grant Thornton.

In 1994 food, drink and tobacco retailers numbered 64,205, but this figure had fallen to 33,150 in 2005.

Last year, insolvency levels rose 45 per cent compared with the previous year and there were 176 liquidations compared with 121 in 2004.

Grant Thornton head of retail David Bush said: 'Many have suffered some form of insolvency as a result of failing to cope with the high cost of borrowing in the early 1990s, a market where consumer taste has rapidly changed and, crucially, ever stronger competition from the supermarkets, which now extends to them buying out convenience store chains.'

Bush added: 'Broader economic issues aside, convenience and price, convenience and mainstream choice - areas where supermarkets win hands down.'