Much has been written about the swift end to the substantial number of large-scale mergers that rocked food retailing in recent years, and that touched off a parallel spasm of manufacturer consolidation. You'll recall that while the big mergers involving companies such as Kroger and Safeway were playing out in this country, there were parallel events in Europe, events such as the merger of French retailers Carrefour and Promodes, Ahold's continued worldwide spread, and even Wal-Mart's foray ...

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