Does the use of a common banner create a virtual chain of stores? That's a question that comes up in various ways in this week's Page 1 news feature about wholesalers and the retail banners they sponsor. Maybe in the end it's just a matter of definition, but to many observers the term "virtual chain" implies much more than a bunch of stores defined by a common name and unified advertising programs. For a start, the banner must be the chief identity of the store; the owner's name can't be ...

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