UK grocery retailers have doubled their presence in the world’s top 20 after Sainsbury’s joined its big four rival Tesco in the elite list.

Despite enduring turbulent trading conditions in Britain, as a fierce price war, food deflation, changing shopper habits and property writedowns all contributed to statutory losses, the duo recorded sales figures in 2014 that ranked them among the biggest global grocers.

According to Planet Retail’s list, Tesco cemented its position as the world’s sixth biggest grocer by banner sales, after raking in $109.69bn (£72.38bn) in 2014.

Sainsbury’s surged into the top 20 for the first time, driven by the expansion of its convenience business and improvements in like-for-like c-store sales, which Planet Retail research director Kelly Tackett called the “bright spark” of the business.

The grocer replaced Safeway (USA) in 20th place after it sold its Canadian business in late 2013.

International markets

US retail titan Walmart remains top of the pile after generating sales of $511.18bn (£337.18bn) in 2014.

French grocer Carrefour held firm in second place, but its annual sales of $133.52bn (£88.07bn) represented a little over a quarter of Walmart’s total.

Costco moved into the top three as annual sales surpassed just shy of $116bn (£76.51bn).

Collectively, the top 20 largest grocers generated sales growth of just 1.1% year-over-year, up slightly from the 1.0% increase registered in 2013.

Tackett said: “Many retailers were challenged by difficulties in their home markets, particularly Western European retailers, which saw consumers shift away from big boxes toward convenience, discount and online formats, and Japanese retailers, whose sales were curbed by a consumption tax.”

RankChange YoYRetailerEstimated sales 2014 (USD)Number of outlets 2014Predicted sales 2019 (USD)
1 Walmart 511.18bn 11,151 572.51bn 
2 Carrefour 133.52bn 11,504 143.32bn
3 Costco 115.95bn 663 159.04bn
4 Schwarz Group 113.76bn 11,270 126.46bn
5 Kroger 111.66bn 3,432 133.28bn
6 Tesco 109.69bn 7,706 112.38bn
7 Seven & I 99.47bn 31,547 110.28bn
8 Aldi 95.6bn 10,343 110.89bn
9 Auchan 84.81bn 3,850 95.99bn
10 Target 75.93bn 1,923 83.36bn
11 Edeka 66.04bn 13,299 63bn
12 Metro Group 62.15bn 1,182 54.66bn
13 Rewe Group 59.35bn 10,183 59.35bn
14 AEON 58.7bn 8,414 58.26bn
15 Casino 58.47bn 11,810 64.35bn
16 Leclerc 56.84bn 758 55.22bn
17 Woolworths (AUS) 52.71bn 2,806 58.52bn
18 Ahold 45.4bn 2,691 49.04bn
19 ITM (Intermarche) 43.46bn 2,716 46.48bn
20 Sainsbury’s 42.59bn 2,716 44.06bn