Small firms urged to think fondly of the chance to sell to a bigger customer should be sceptical
Food retailing seems to have turned into a game of choose a partner, or as boardrooms would see it, an exercise in high-level manoeuvring. Here comes Tesco, using Nato-style language to unveil its “long-term, strategic alliance” with Carrefour of France, complete with three-year “operational framework” to guard against corporate secrets falling into the wrong hands. All it is really talking about is combining buying clout to demand lower prices from suppliers.
Grand strategic talk is in fashion in the age of Amazon. Retail executives talk of the industry evolving into a handful of global alliances, as happened with national airlines. Walmart is spending $16bn (£12bn) to buy the Indian e-commerce leader Flipkart.