Australian food retail leader Woolworths upped its share of the market by 1.1% to 38.7% in the twelve months ended September, reports trade magazine Retail World. Archrival Coles Myer, which also runs the Bi-Lo discount fascia and the Newmart chain in Western Australia, also grew its percentage of the grocery market by 0.9% to 32.9%.

This further consolidation of the two heavyweights leaves them in control of some 70% of the Australian supermarket sector, and comes at the expense, inevitably, of some of the smaller players. These include Franklins, Metro Cash and Carry's Metcash, and Foodland Associated.

Retail World says Franklins "has been unable to stem its prolonged loss of market share." The group ceded a further 0.9% to see its market share slip to 12.5% in the period under review. Metcash, which services the majority of independents in the eastern states, dropped 1% per cent to 12%, while Foodland fared a little better but still reported a marginal decline of 0.1% to 3.7%.

However, the current dominance of Woolworths and Coles Myer could soon come under threat from Aldi, the German hard discount chain which has been readying its move down under for two years and is set to open its first stores within the coming twelve months.