THE announcement yesterday that the half-yearly-profits of the retail giant Tesco had passed the £1 billion mark was greeted with joy in the City of London but withy dismay by farmers and the owners of hundreds of small businesses in country towns.
Tesco are now the world's third biggest supermarket chain, and say that food sales are now a smaller part of their business than electrical goods, clothing, books and DVDs - but this has done nothing to suppress the anger of farmers and market gardeners who say the chain has driven down produce prices so low that it is almost impossible to make a living.
Tesco faces protest over huge profits
Nor does its appease the owners of non-food retails businesses in market towns which are being driven out of business in their thousands by competition from out-of-town superstores.
And countryside activists like the Campaign to Protect Rural England blame companies like Tesco - which is now expanding into smaller High Street branches - of "cloning" market towns so that they all look alike whatever part of the country you visit.
At the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, even leader David Cameron appeared to express doubts about Tesco's huge expansion. Whilst praising the company for its entrepreneurial spirit, he added: "But one does feel a sense of concern for the farmers."
Tesco are at the centre of a bitter legal row in the Yorkshire Dales over a huge expansion of their store in Skipton. Craven District Council refused planning permission on plans to double the store's floor space - but was overruled by the Whitehall department then led by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.