Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s December issue. As the year closes, December is traditionally time for taking stock and reviewing business, and enjoying a break with friends and family. So we’d like to help you get into the festive mood with The Grocery Trader’s Review of The Year, looking back at some of the industry stories we’ll remember from 2011.

As these pages show, grocery retailers and their suppliers continue to flourish and innovate, and consumers still jump at the chance to have a good time.

Our Review of The Year lifts the lid on some areas of excellence where so much great work is being done – among them grocery new product development and marketing, packaging, the back of the store and retail IT. Retail IT, of course, includes the fast moving field of payment technology, which is set to transform the retail environment as mobile payments catch on in a big way. In the Review we’ve got interviews with Barclaycard, leading the field in secure payments: ValidSoft, redefining card payment security with their innovative solutions: and Elavon, offering easy, reliable payment processing.

The back of the store and supply chain are also of critical importance in today’s grocery industry. Our Review’s front page leads with storage experts SSI Shaefer highlighting efficiency in this area through automation, with their very popular Automation Day Conference. And on the grocery side we have stories on the front page of the Review from three food companies achieving excellence this year – New Covent Garden Foods, who carried out their biggest brand overhaul yet: Kepak, whose Rustlers brand joined forces with MTV to target young male consumers: and Burton’s Foods, who brought beloved grocery icon Wagon Wheels to new prominence.

In the main magazine we interview Merley Paper Converters, the receipt marketing solutions providers best known for Promeroll, their industry leading promotional till rolls: Mood Media Corporation, the world leading international in-store media specialist who use a mix of music, visual and scent media to help clients communicate with consumers and drive sales at the point of purchase: and Oakland International, the Redditch-based multi temperature supply chain specialist, who recently won the Business Initiative of the Year category at The Grocer Gold Awards for their joint consolidation scheme with dairy product sourcing experts The Dairy Trader.

As these pages show, the UK grocery industry continues to flourish and innovate, and Brits still seize the chance to have a good time, which keeps the grocery trade going. Whatever the economy does, thankfully people out there will still need to eat and drink, and do their household shopping in a widening choice of channels, including on line.

We hope all of you reading this issue will get the chance to relax and enjoy the festive season. Merry Christmas, and see you in 2012!

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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