back to article Amazon UK boss is 'most powerful' man in food and drink

"He doesn’t run any supermarkets and his market share in groceries is minuscule. But Chris North gives grocery the shivers.” So says The Grocer, a trade magazine, which has named the Amazon UK boss as No.1 in the The Grocer’s 100 Power List, beating out more orthodox names such as Aldi UK boss Matthew Barnes, who ranks no.2. …

  1. Tromos
    Joke

    Amazon to 'av Ocado?

    They'd make quite a pear!

    1. Diodelogic

      Re: Amazon to 'av Ocado?

      Alligator pear,

      Crocigator pear,

      Dat's why dey so MEAN.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Amazon to 'av Ocado?

        Upvote for the crocigator reference.

  2. 2460 Something

    Amazon is as ubiquitous as Google, it is one of the first places people look online for something. It is no wonder that everyone else gets very concerned and fidgety when they decide to start entering a new market segment.

    1. Necronomnomnomicon

      It doesn't always happen, though.

      Remember when estate agents everywhere were bricking themselves over Google getting on their turf? Then it never turned up. A shame, really, estate agents need a good kick up the jacksy.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't always happen, though.

        "A shame, really, estate agents need a good kick up the jacksy."

        So does the housebuilding industry.

        Unlike British Leyland, it's rather difficult to go and buy competitive product (although a Huf house is competitively priced compared to getting something built by locals)

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Mushroom

      If Amazon/Google can disrupt your business

      then I humbly suggest you aren't very good at your business.

      The only reason I shop at Sainsburys is geography. It's not the closest supermarket, but it's next to a nice Costa for a post-shop latte. That's the only difference between Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose. All of which are less than 20 minutes drive from me.

      When 5 *massive* businesses are (a) shit and (b) indistinguishable, then it's time for Amazon or whoever to show them up.

      1. Oli 1

        Re: If Amazon/Google can disrupt your business

        What part of town are you from, as round my way Asda and Waitrose are as polar opposite as its possible to be.

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge

          Re: If Amazon/Google can disrupt your business

          I live in SW Brum. There's a massive ASDA 15 *walk* from my house (I used to walk there and back as a morning constitutional when the weather wasn't shit).

          There's a Morrisons 10 minutes drive, and 5 minutes beyond that a Sainsburys.

          5 minute drive gets me to Harborne, where there's a Waitrose (2 miles from the Asda). And 5 minutes drive to Quinton gets me to Tescos.

          And in the past, just to prove to SWMBO, I have gone to all 5, and we have seen (apart from own-brand, obviously) they stock (or *don't*) stock exactly the same things.

          So, as with genomes that get lazy, and are all susceptible to the same disease, the big supermarkets appear to have become so homogenised it should be childs play to differentiate from them, and steal their customers. And the smaller more niche outlets can stop being so smug. (Looks at the "delicatessens" in the West Midlands who also stock identikit products - and not what I'd want).

  3. GreggS
    Coat

    Amazon Prime

    Rib, anyone?

  4. stuwaldy

    Substitution

    Unfortunately some of your requested items were unavailable

    SUBSTITUTIONS:

    Ordered - 1 x Ocado

    Delivered - 1 x Spar

  5. gr00001000

    the geeks shall inherit the earth

    Its beyond most peoples comprehension that Amazons original market was Geeks buying heavy expensive technical books and manuals, Cisco and Microsoft press books. From there they conquered the book world and beyond.

    The web was orginally a document sharing service populated by computer operators and universities and now is critical to business and most commercial businesses consider launching primarily as a website.

    Geeks favoured Apple devices and these days they are the prominant mobile and premium business laptop.

    When machines replace workers in site automation and self-learning AI automation robots, the geeks will be kings.

    1. aelking

      Re: the geeks shall inherit the earth

      Apple are barely a footnote in businesses, not counting BYOD (where has that gone BTW?), and geeks have never 'favoured' Apple devices, yes at one point Apple were the only Major PC player, but then that was soon eroded Microsoft.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: the geeks shall inherit the earth

        >When machines replace workers in site automation and self-learning AI automation robots, the geeks will be kings.

        No, the people who hold the power over the geeks will be kings, as has always been the case. For 'geeks', we can substitute 'stone masons' - they were people that the rulers needed, and couldn't treat too badly (else they would take their skills elsewhere), but kings they were not.

        Of course, some geeks have become very powerful today, but they are a few individuals and that power isn't distributed amongst everyone who can code

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the geeks shall inherit the earth

          "For 'geeks', we can substitute 'stone masons' - they were people that the rulers needed, and couldn't treat too badly (else they would take their skills elsewhere), but kings they were not."

          The Mamelukes were military geeks. Bought as young slave boys from outside the caliphate - they were rigorously trained to form the caliph's army. Eventually they took over the rule of the caliphate as sultans with a figurehead caliph.

          http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=exc

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: the geeks shall inherit the earth

      When machines replace workers in site automation and self-learning AI automation robots, the geeks will be kings.

      No, no we won't. That's hubris. We'll be redundant like all the other workers.

      The main moderating brake on that happening is that we're being offshored to low skill low cost countries like India so fast that we've barely time to keep the plates spinning, never mind automating them.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: the geeks shall inherit the earth

      "Geeks favoured Apple devices"

      No, people always bought apple because it was shiny.

  6. Efros

    If their US Pantry

    is anything to go by then I wouldn't be too bothered. The choice of goods is limited and the delivery times are prohibitive (for groceries anyhow), I have used it for a couple of things I can't source locally but not on a regular basis, my local supermarket is on the whole cheaper (even in the sticks of Maine) and I don't have to wait 3-5 days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If their US Pantry

      I dunno, I treid them in the UK and the response was next day - however currently their offerings are too few to use it much

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If their US Pantry

      If their US Pantry is anything to go by then I wouldn't be too bothered.

      I wouldn't expect Amazon to achieve much in this space. I used to work for an EPOS company, and whilst to the outside world all shops just sell stuff, there's big differences in critical success factors between food, fashion, specialist and general merchandise, and the logistics and supply chain structures are very different. It is also notable that many retailers find that their brand and business model don't work in foreign territories, despite an apparent market and supposedly plenty of due diligence (Tesco in the US, B&Q in China, Marks & Sparks in a whole load of countries).

      There's certainly nothing to stop Amazon trying, and by buying Ocado they don't have the problem of the Amazon brand not stretching far enough. But how does an Amazon grocery offer scale up to be worth their while? The grocery home delivery market in the UK looks saturated to me, and there's existing brands and propositions at all price/quality points.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: If their US Pantry

        I stick to bulk ordering long life stuff through Amazon, sacks of flour, pulses, rice etc. That's almost everything we used to need supermarkets for and massively cheaper. Almost everything else is cheaper at our local farm shop or the market and ready to eat today, not in a couple of weeks or likely to rot before ever ripening supermarket style.

        The surprisingly large proportion of people that think the big supermarkets are actually cheap are a tempting target for Amazon because loss leaders aside, it will be trivially easy to crush them on both pricing and choice. For the few of us that live happily with minimal exposure to anything beyond Aldi, don't see any change coming we didn't already buy into, we're reverting to buying from the best supplier for each product, not the hell of the supermarket shopping expedition.

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Couldn't be worse than the bricks & mortar stores ...

    MrsJP is a fan of Ainsleys "Shropshire Pea soup" (no accounting for taste)

    Unavailable at any of our local megamarts (I mean *big*).

    Had to order from Amazon !

    I would welcome Amazon "disrupting" the grocery market. It might mean I can buy what *I* want, not what the supermarkets want to sell to me.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Couldn't be worse than the bricks & mortar stores ...

      Too true.

      I remember when supermarkets came on the scene, and it was the vast choice that hit you when scanning the shelves, along with the low prices.

      Today, the vast choice model has been scrapped and instead we are presented with the limited offerings of preferential suppliers, who basically take less profit on condition their competitors brands are removed from the shelves.

      The market is no longer at the whim of consumers, but is directed by a cabal of retailers.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Couldn't be worse than the bricks & mortar stores ...

        The market is no longer at the whim of consumers, but is directed by a cabal of retailers.

        Welcome to the invisible hand of the free market...

      2. Oengus Silver badge

        Re: Couldn't be worse than the bricks & mortar stores ...

        "with the limited offerings of preferential suppliers,"

        More likely with more and more "home brand" products. My local supermarket has at least three "different" tiers of home brand products from the plain "black and white" labeling to the "glitzy" premium brand with the gold embossed lettering that is, of course, "available exclusively at...".

        Of course the "home brand" products take up the best spots on the shelf because they deliver the greatest profit to the supermarket chain...

  8. Kirk Northrop

    Amazon and Ocado could work - Ocado see themselves as a technology company that just happens to sell groceries, and their systems are very clever and nicely set up to make picking and packing lots of orders as efficient as possible, and their customer service is top notch.

    Seeing as Amazon these days are a technology company that happens to sell everything, sounds like a good fit! (And would compete with Sainsbury-Argos)

  9. ZapTheGreat

    Tax Rip Off

    That's more tax the UK government won't be getting which will have to be made up by us

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon for Groceries?

    No, never, no.

    I do my main shop at one of the big 4 supermarkets. I can choose the things I want. I am not at the whim of a minimum wage stock picker (until Amazon automate it that is).

    When I'm done at the supermarket, I head to the local farmers market to get the things that no supermarket would stock. You get to know the suppliers. You can't do that with Amazon.

    Then the Amazon delivery service seem to just drop my deiveries on my doorstep without bothering to see it I'm in. so what happens to the frozen goods that I might buy from them if they do the same?

    Deliver another soggy mess the next working day?

    Mind you, I would never use any of the supermarket's own delivery service.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: I can choose the things I want.

      No you can't. You can choose what you want from what the supermarket wants to stock. Bearing in mind I suspect their priorities will centre around delivering maximum £/cm2 of floor area. What are your priorities.

      As I mentioned upthread, there are varieties of *already stocked* brands we can't get at *any* of our local supermarkets.

      If I had time, I could draw you up a weekly shopping list you'd be unable to fulfil from Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda, Tesco, or Waitrose in a single shop. And (if it comes to Ainsleys Shropshire Pea soup) not even then.

      Example of market fail: Sungold tomatoes.

      And that's quite before you deal with Sainsburys endemic stock control problems (ongoing since 1982 when I worked for them).

      My only pause to defend the big markets is that they are very driven by *what they can sell*, which is function of fashion (Bake-off, etc). Being of Italian extraction, stranded in the wastes of the Midlands, I am well aware of how shops are forced to stock what Jocasta and Sebastian saw on "Come Dine With Me" last week. Which is also a factor in farmers markets (still no Sungold tomatoes). That's *if* you live near enough to one. (Luckily, bohemian Harborne, Birmingham, has a monthly one).

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: I can choose the things I want.

        Oh, but I do choose what I want at least from the fresh food section.

        But I shop locally. I have two Butchers within walking distance. One makes the best sausages in the land (IMHO). The Farmers market and farm shops (for veg) supply the rest.

        For the 'dry goods' then mostly I'll buy the own brand not the overpriced heavily advertised branded things.

        However, as an old grumpy, I eschew anything that is advertised. Not that I see many anyway.

        Each to their own.

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Amazon for Groceries?

      When I pay full price for a sandwich, I get the one made this morning from the back of the shelf.

      If I ordered over the net, then I'd be given the one from the front of the shelf, two days old and still the same price.

      What that particular industry needs, is to wake up to the idea that the price should fall to zero over its lifetime.

      So as with the sandwich example. On day one I pay £2, on day two £1, three 50p, four free.

      But that will never happen, as large retailers have no intention of sitting full priced fresh stock next to half priced aged, as that is against the laws of profit maximisation. No, the old stock will either be sold at full price or sent to landfill.

      Which in a nutshell explains why farmers get paid pennies for items we pay pounds for, it's because we're paying for millions of tonnes of perfectly edible food being sent to landfill.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: When I pay full price for a sandwich

        But is that "groceries", or a snack food ?

        "Groceries" (to me) are what you buy, usually weekly, to stock your cupboards with.

        Which is not what you were on about ....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When I pay full price for a sandwich

          When I pay full price for a prepacked sandwich it's a distress purchase and the choice the least worst immediate option. The idea that anyone would have this sort of perishable, overpriced, lazy & piss poor food delivered from anything but a local fast food delivery service is bizarre.

          Experienced bargaineers also know when they'll be reduced to pennies and it's remarkable how often that matches convenient breaks in a day or nights drinking.

        2. Rol Silver badge

          Re: When I pay full price for a sandwich

          I think the rest of my comment states quite clearly why I cannot use the likes of a carrot to make my point.

          But just to make it clear, you can't buy last weeks carrots at half price, because they will not discount them. They are either sold at full price or sent to landfill.

          Hell it was only a week or two ago, when Tesco was being challenged on its policy of disposing of fresh fruit and veg by the lorry load, straight from the supplier to the tip.

          The veg was fresher than the stock on the shelves, but logistically it made more sense to just throw away the new stock. Discounting it, to get more veg in peoples trolleys, was totally out of the question.

          This is not how the free market is supposed to function, and if the likes of Tesco hadn't got such a stranglehold on the grocery market, it just wouldn't happen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When I pay full price for a sandwich

            "They are either sold at full price or sent to landfill."

            My local Waitrose generally sells off excess fresh fruit and veg at reduced prices. It usually goes to about 20% off a few days before its anticipated expiry date. On the last day it goes to 50% or even less - and in the last hour it can go down to 10p.

            A few weeks ago they were selling off a crate of ripe, but not over-ripe, bananas at 19p for 1kg. I bought the fresh stock instead as I keep them for a few days. It was interesting that even that fresh stock was automatically charged at the checkout at the same bargain price.

      2. Vic

        Re: Amazon for Groceries?

        No, the old stock will either be sold at full price or sent to landfill.

        I don't know where you live, but that's simply untrue here in sunny Southampton. The supermarkets always have short-dated stock at reduced prices.

        I buy it often...

        Vic.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Amazon for Groceries?

      >so what happens to the frozen goods that I might buy from them if they do the same?

      That's a question of implementation, not concept. In theory a refrigerated delivery van *could* bring frozen goods to your door in a better state than you could (if your car doesn't have air-con). Other options include a reuseable thermal box, and maybe a phase-change thermal store 'brick'.

      The rest of your points are valid. People's shopping habits vary a lot, but some might have a supermarket deliver the bulk boring stuff and get meats from a local butchers. I use Lidl for many items, but use Sainsburys/Waitrose for other stuff, a farmer's market if I'm passing... My habits are partly informed by my drive home from work.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon for Groceries?

      "[...] I head to the local farmers market to get the things that no supermarket would stock.

      At the local farmers' market many prices seem to be calculated on the basis that a small production volume, or trendy adulterations, equals "desirability". The prices often make my eyes water.

      The products on offer are often the things that a supermarket would store in a chiller. It is doubtful that the stallholders discard their unsold produce at the end of the day.

      Yes there are occasional bargains - like very large cabbages. Otherwise they are often apparently selling on the cachet rather than value for money.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    Interesting

    In their home market, Germany, Aldi (and Lidl) are not considered to be supermarkets. They are just called "discounters", having "eingedeutscht" (assimilated) the English word.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting

      In their home market, Germany, Aldi (and Lidl) are not considered to be supermarkets.

      The word "super" does seem a bit of hyperbole, I'd agree. But on the other hand, I'm an Aldi loyalist, having got tired of Tesco's excessive choice and high prices. Why do I need forty three varieties of beans? Or a store so large that stuff can go off between picking it up at the back, and getting to the till?

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        I agree. We usually shop at Aldi or Lidl and then go to Famila or Edeka for what we couldn't get at the discounter.

  12. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    I'd think the German "Discounter" corresponds to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discount_store

    Aldi (etc.) are sufficiently different from what we call Supermarkt to be named differently.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Amazon buying a Grocery company?

    Buying a small online one, that most people never heard of won't happen. They DID buy IMDB, Goodreads, The Book Depositary etc because that makes sense.

    If their bricks and mortar Bookshops work and their own online Grocery works, then they might buy a bricks and mortar chain, or create one.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019