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Increasing its grip on the retail food sector, Supersol - including all its branches, as well as those of its newly acquired chain, Clubmarket - accounted for more than 40 percent of the sector in December 2005, according to figures from ACNielsen, a marketing information company.

The figures show that Supersol alone accounted for 29 percent of the retail sector, while Clubmarket added a further 11.4-percent slice. This is the first time since Supersol bought out Clubmarket from its receiver last year that the combined retailer's share of the bar-coded food market has surpassed 40 percent.

This only goes to strengthen Supersol's position vis-a-vis its suppliers, and the talks it is currently conducting in an attempt to wrest further discounts off its suppliers. Chairman Avraham Bigger and CEO Effie Rosenhaus recently said that they expected to enjoy preferable conditions from the suppliers given their position in the market and the gap between Supersol and its next largest rival, Blue Square Israel.

However, ACNielsen's figures also show that the smaller private chains are increasing their market share too. This list includes Super Aba Victory, Tiv Taam, Super Rama and Co-Op Jerusalem, which together enjoyed a 17-percent market share in December 2005 - up from 16 percent a year earlier.

The bar-code market accounts for some 70 percent of the total sum of food sales in Israel, estimated at some NIS 35 billion a year.