Fast Company’s innovation list is out again, the top 50 for the year.

It includes the usual suspects, Google, Facebook, Linked-in, and so on, but also 2 retailers, Californian Trader Joes at 11, and Britain’s Marks & Spencer at 36. Both are surprising, although TJ’s is well understood in food industry circles as one of the real innovators, and everybody watches them, but M&S was a surprise to me.

A 100% housebrand retailer, one who does not accommodate the innovation efforts of its suppliers by enabling a proprietary brand margin for them, but who is a copier, albeit a very good one, is listed!

Conventional wisdom would say that the innovation efforts of a 100% housebrand retailer would be seriously compromised by the unavailability of the innovation powerhouses of FMCG, the multinational suppliers to get their brands on the shelf, and who are therefore not in the slightest bit interested in  assisting M&S to improve their position with consumers. Coventional wisdom it seems, is once again, not the most reliable measure.

Just for the record, Apple was number 1, no surprise there.