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Amazon to overtake Wal-Mart by 2020, says ex-Asda CEO

Amazon will overtake Wal-Mart as the world's biggest retailer by 2020 amid a fundamental shift in the world's shopping habits, according to Andy Bond, the former chief executive of Asda.

Highlighting a "period of vast change", Mr Bond said the online retailer would come to eclipse Wal-Mart, Asda's US owner. Amazon currently has a market value of $106bn (£68bn), compared to Wal-Mart's $252bn capitalisation.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Bond also warned of up to a decade of economic pain for UK consumers, branded pay for some top company directors "gratuitous", and threatened to inflame the milk industry row by calling for supermarkets to do more to help farmers.

Highlighting the internet revolution, Mr Bond – now chairman of web-based bicycle retailer Wiggle and fashion company Republic – said: "No one should underestimate what internet companies are doing to the retail industry. We're in a period of vast change.

"Almost certainly Amazon will have toppled, or at least be vying with, Wal-Mart for the top slot in 2020. 10 years ago people would have said that was ridiculous."

On the economy Mr Bond said consumers were likely to face continued tough times. "It will be a long hard slog. People holding their breath and waiting for better times are going to be holding their breath for an awful long time," he said. "I don't know whether it's five or 10 years of volatility… but I am concerned about the consumer."

With pay an increasingly emotive subject, the former supermarket chief also suggested money had become too much of a driver. "The multiples earned by top executives compared to average salaries has got to a point where it's slightly gratuitous in some circumstances. Things have got out of control," he said. "Do people deserve to earn a lot of money? Yes. But the whole economic reward thing has become too much the focus, for management and for investors."

Mr Bond also intensified the debate over Britain's milk market. While declaring himself not an expert – despite six years at Asda – he said: "The whole point about milk is that we have to decide what we want from our supermarkets. They are fantastic custodians for consumers and getting low prices, but at what cost?

"On some things, like the farming industry, there should be something more than low prices," he said. "Look at where I live in North Yorkshire – who's going to look after the land and care for the security and supply of essential goods like milk if all we do is look at the lowest price?"

Source : Jonathan Sibun – The Telegraph

06 August 2012
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