For those who might be unfamiliar with the Alien vs Predator franchise, here’s what you need to know: Predators are a race of creatures who hunt anything and everything in the universe, and whose society is built for the greater glory of the kill. Aliens, on the other hand, have acid for blood, are vicious killing machines, and were created by Predators to be worthy opponents. The tagline of the Alien vs Predator movies is this: “Whoever wins, we lose.”
Which is what came to mind this morning as I flipped through the Financial Times, which announced that Wal-Mart was going to roll out a new range of stores in Phoenix, Arizona under the brand name “Marketside”, in an attempt to rip the throat out of the UK supermarket giant, Tesco. The British company is churning out “Fresh and Easy” stores that are, quite successfully, taking market share from Wal-Mart.
The bit that the Financial Times leaves out is that both of these companies, while trumpeting low prices and convenience, are criminal organisations. Tesco is still under investigation from the UK Office of Fair Trading for its membership in a price fixing cartel that cost British shoppers over half a billion dollars, in which its major rivals have already admitted guilt. Wal-Mart is being charged with dozens of lawsuits, including the largest discrimination case in US history.
To put it briefly, in the battle of the supermarkets, no matter who wins, we lose.