The UK's top retailers are no longer gaining collective market share at the expense of their smaller rivals as rising competition between the leaders and pressures to de-merge non-core businesses take their toll.

Instead, the new retail elite is made up of focused specialists such as Next, JJB Sports and Matalan according to Retail Knowledge Bank's newly published Top 500 - 2002. It says the Top 10's UK sales in 2001 were £1bn less than in 2000, down by 1.3 per cent. This resulted in a combined share of UK retail sales falling from 43 per cent to 41 per cent. Total UK retail sales rose by 4 per cent and £7 billion in the same period.

Within the Top 10, Marks & Spencer contributed less to the UK retail cake in its 2001 financial year sales. Just outside the Top 10 Arcadia and Littlewoods also contributed lower sales in the relevant period as they adjusted to the new climate.

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Retail Week's Top 500
With the top 500 leading UK retailers accounting for 85% of retail turnover last year, you need to know who they are before targeting the remaining 215,000 retailers who make up just 15%. You won’t find such comprehensive and in-depth information anywhere other than Retail Week’s Top 500 2002. Highlighting the rising stars of retail, this report enables you to target them effectively during their growth phase.


At the other end of the top echelon's performances, six retailers in the Top 20 registered double-digit sales growth, including John Lewis Partnership and Debenhams. Next is the most profitable among the retail leaders, says the report, with a 12.6 per cent pre-tax margin.

Fast growing newcomers also include H&M Hennes, TK Maxx, JD Sports and Blacks Leisure (although this company is due to drop out again next year, having now sold its Fashion Division to JD Sports).

And according to Retail Knowledge Bank, 'ones to watch' for further rapid progress next year include Claire's Accessories, Fat Face (lifestyle clothing and accessories), Mango (fashion), and Uniqlo, despite parent Fast Retailing's problems in its domestic Japanese market.

The 700-page report contains detailed strategic profiles of the UK's 500 largest retailers with UK turnover from £18 billion to £10 million, together accounting for 85 per cent of all UK retail sales.