But these are big independent 'super groups', increasingly operating more like oil companies in terms of scale and processes, and it makes sense to work with other similarly-minded retailers. They're continually exploring all possible avenues to develop their businesses profitably. There's a lot they can learn from each other the Top 50 groups are masters of forecourt retailing; and Morrisons and Sansbury's know a thing or two about the grocery sector.
Another interesting collaboration is between Shell and ITM Power as they work together developing hydrogen refuelling stations (see news page 4). Last month saw the delivery of the electrolyser and buffer tank at the Extra Motorway Service Area in Cobham. The picture rather reminds me of a scene from the film Jurassic Park, as a dinosaur is craned into its restricted area. Hopefully the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel widely available to everyday motorists will not turn into a monstrous relic, but will be a positive contribution in tackling the world's environmental anxieties.
Talking of anxiety and I certainly don't want to! Robert Botkai from licensing law firm Winckworth Sherwood has contributed a good article on alcohol reform proposals (see News Extra, page 10). It's certainly worth a read, particularly if you're about to apply for an alcohol licence. If you haven't got time to read it, the message is get a move on. Things could be about to change!
But back to now and Christmas is here I hope the till bells keep ringing!