After a turbulent period weathering a storm of food price deflation, online growth and changing shopper habits, the big four grocers fought back in 2016.

Market leader Tesco, under the stewardship of Dave Lewis, continued to shed non-core businesses such as restaurant chain Giraffe and Dobbies Garden Centres, as it focused on its UK business.



Tesco’s own-label proposition, Farm brands, boosted the business

Investment in price, customer service and rejuvenating its own-label proposition with the entry level Farm brands has helped it return to like-for-like sales growth.

And it hopes to continue on the front foot by restoring group margins to between 3.5% and 4% in the coming years.

Morrisons has perhaps been the biggest surprise of the year, as former Tesco executive David Potts proved he is a strategic leader as well as a born trader.

Its ‘fresh look’ programme has breathed fresh life into its store estate, which is now in like-for-like growth.

Potts has also harnessed the grocer’s vertically integrated model by supplying goods to Amazon and reviving the Safeway brand, opening up a new revenue stream.

Sainsbury’s is poised to leverage the Argos and Habitat brands to help it create its ‘supermarket of the future’, while its Chop Chop and SmartShop apps both look well set to gain traction with shoppers in the New Year.

Even Asda, so long the holder of the big four’s wooden spoon, has a fresh impetus, spearheaded by new boss Sean Clarke.

The Walmart-owned grocer has drafted in a wave of new senior management staff as it seeks to turn around its ailing fortunes, which hit a low when like-for-likes plunged 7.5% in the second quarter of 2016.

After a promising year for the mainstream grocers, Aldi and Lidl could well be facing a tough 2017 ahead.