So, two of the big names in grocery retailing, Sainsbury's and Asda, are poised to become one. In what is set to be the biggest deal in grocery retailing since 2004 when Safeway was taken over by Morrison, it looks as though Tesco's position as top dog of the supermarket giants with a 27% market share may be under threat and the big four will become the big three.
Stiff competition from German discount retailers Lidl and Aldi meant it was only a matter of time until something had to change within this sector. Initial media reports have signalled that the deal will look to maintain all or the majority of Sainsbury's and Asda stores as the merger recognises the complementary geographical spread of each retailer's stores: Asda being stronger in the North and Sainsbury's in the South. Evidently, this mega-merger will increase buying power significantly for both retailers.
It remains to be seen how the Competition and Markets Authority will view the deal. One particularly interesting area will be the retailers' combined share of the toy market, in which Sainsbury's have already made significant gains with their acquisition of Argos.
Whatever the outcome, supermarket retailing remains one of the fastest-moving, exciting sectors and this deal is one to watch.
Go on, what are you waiting for? Indulge yourself. From a frothy coffee to get your day off to the right start to a spot of shopping or lunch with a friend, the art of pleasure-seeking is a necessary antidote to the humdrum of the everyday.
So much of our pleasure comes from what we imbibe, quaff, stuff and nibble and it's no coincidence that many businesses nowadays are cottoning onto this fact. A little treat goes a long way when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Waitrose have got it spot on: the lure of a free luscious latte or creamy cappuccino when you make a purchase and present your loyalty card in-store. They are very successfully ensuring that they are the food retailer uppermost in your mind when you need to pop for a loaf of bread, a pint of milk or a mid-week stock-up. (It also helps that they are closest to my front door, close enough for a brisk 15 minute walk with the promise of frothy coffee to spur me on the journey back. Not forgetting, the added bonus that I've burnt off the milky coffee calories or so I believe!)
If you're thinking this doesn't even register on the pleasure scale, granted a Freakshake with whipped cream, cookies, sprinkles, marshmallows and any other sticky sugariness you care to dream up may be the ultimate indulgence - as well as becoming a feature on your Instagram feed. But whichever end of the scale you find yourself at, the hot drink has become somewhat emblematic of the pleasure we take from our food and drink consumption. (BTW, If you're into the pleasure-pain equation then the Freakshake has to be your toughest gym class twice over to work that baby off - just saying!)
A recent, very pleasurable trip to Paris involved good girlfriends, coffee, an art exhibition followed by - yes you guessed it - lunch. As two of them are gluten intolerant (what are the odds?) they made me walk 10-minutes in the pouring rain (slightly painful but I was in Paris still) to seek out 'Noglu' an entirely gluten-free café. If you're now sighing and thinking here comes the painful bit: she was forced to eat alternative food, seeking to emulate the wonderful wheat-laden French breads and patisseries, then you are entirely mistaken. Noglu is a revelation. If you want utterly scrumptious, leave-me-wanting-more, how-can-this-carrot-cake-possibly-be-healthy-it-tastes-too- divine lunchtime fare then go straight to Noglu, do not pass Goglu! It's a pleasure-seeker's paradise ( -and it's all bathed in rose gold). Now, I just need one about a 15-minute brisk walk from my front door. Could life get any better??
"Believe you can and you're halfway there" Theodore Roosevelt
New beginnings are good for the soul. They keep us fresh, stop us from stagnating and take us on a new journey. The dawning of a new year is a great time to realise a new project. Whether it's searching for a new home, undertaking a new fitness regime, learning a new language or maybe launching a new business, they all require commitment and hard work.
Take building a business, for example, it takes bags of enthusiasm, self-belief and a dogged determination to succeed on what can sometimes seem a lonely journey. But take heart because there is plenty of support out there: you just need to be resourceful, think smart and box clever. ..
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal