Rising competition and costs, along with lackluster customer spending, squeezed financial results for independent grocery store operators last year, according to a report from the National Grocers Association (NGA). Same-store sales for independents dipped 0.6% in fiscal 2017, according to the 2018 Independent Grocers Financial Survey released by NGA and financial consulting partner FMS Solutions Holdings. The slight decrease, however, marked an improvement from fiscal 2016, when comparable-store sales fell 1.62% year over year.
Amazon extends Whole Foods delivery service to four new US cities
Amazon and Whole Foods Market have extended the free two-hour delivery of natural and organic products from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now to Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Richmond. Effective immediately, Prime members in those cities can shop through Prime Now for bestselling items including fresh produce, meat and seafood, everyday staples and other locally sourced items from Whole Foods Market.
US: Kroger pulling out of Raleigh-Durham market
Kroger will abruptly shutter all of its 14 stores in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, market, citing “a changing retail environment” and “overstoring” as the reason. The stores, operated by Kroger's Mid-Atlantic division, have had a presence in Raleigh-Durham since 1989, and will close on or about Aug. 14, with sister division Harris Teeter moving into eight of the properties and Food Lion and Crunch Fitness taking over one store each, with discussions in motion of what to do with the remaining stores.
Norway: REMA 1000 appoints Trond Bentestuen as CEO of Norwegian operation
REMA 1000 has appointed Trond Bentestuen as CEO of its Norwegian operation. Bentestuen is currently Executive Vice President of Wealth Management & Insurance at DNB. Jan Frode Johansen will continue as franchise director for REMA 1000. Commenting on the announcement, REMA 1000 CEO Ole Robert Reitan said on Facebook, ‘As we approach 1000 stores in both countries (Norway and Denmark), and 18,000 employees from industry and distribution to the store, we need good and experienced people like Trond to help us develop REMA 1000 further in Norway. We are committed to ensuring growth and development in both countries, and I will now be able to focus even more on it, both as owner and CEO of Rema 1000'.
UK: Tesco and Ocado sign up to productDNA
Tesco and Ocado have become the first chains to sign commercial contracts for using productDNA, the new industry-developed grocery product data sharing service for retailers and suppliers. Standards organisation GS1 UK, which led the systems development, said both Tesco and Ocado are now actively approaching their supplier base to start implementing the service into their businesses. productDNA, which officially launched last month, aims to deliver accurate and consistent data by capturing, managing and distributing information in a uniform manner that can readily be accessed and shared by all parties in the supply chain. GS1 UK said that key benefits of the new service for the UK grocery industry included a common data model for all retailers using a set of agreed product attributes; a simpler, faster product catalogue shared between suppliers and retailers; and third party verification to improve the quality of product data.
Australia: Coles to open new smaller stores
Coles is set to expand into convenience store operations, as part of a number of new initiatives for the retailer in Australia. Coles is developing smaller and more flexible stores to meet the needs of consumers in inner city locations, making it more convenient for customers to shop. Fierce rival, Woolworths, operates Metro stores that focus on grab and go items and fresh food. Coles is likely to take a similar approach, and will look to promote healthy options to capitalise on this growing global trend.
Spar sets up shop in Malta with plans for 23 stores in eight years
Food retail chain Spar has set up shop in Malta, with plans to open 23 stores including two hypermarkets across the country by 2025. The chain’s first store, a supermarket in Marsaxlokk, opened its doors to customers on Tuesday. A second outlet in Tigne is expected to open by the end of the month. Those two stores are the first puzzle pieces in a wider expansion drive which will see Spar present in 23 different locations within eight years. Two of those will be Interspar hypermarkets, four will be large-format supermarkets and 17 will be neighbourhood stores. In Malta, the brand will be operated by the Azzopardi Group, which is most renowned for its Azzopardi Fisheries and Miracle Foods stores. The local company received a licence to operate under the SPAR brand in late 2016.
British lawmakers to question Sainsbury's and Asda CEOs over deal
A British parliamentary committee will question the CEOs of the UK’s no.2 supermarket Sainsbury’s and its third-biggest supermarket Asda ahead of their proposed combination, as scrutiny of the deal cranks up. Sainsbury’s announced a 7.3bln pound ($9.77bln) deal to buy U.S. group Walmart’s Asda in April. If it goes ahead, the combined giant will overtake Tesco as Britain’s biggest supermarket group.
South Africa's retail sales growth eased markedly in April, after accelerating in the previous two months, figures from Statistics South Africa showed. Retail sales increased 0.5% year-over-year in April, much slower than the 4.6% rise in March, which was revised down from a 4.8% increase reported earlier. Economists had expected a 4.4% growth for the month. Sales of household furniture, appliances and equipment grew 11.0% annually in April, while those of food, beverages and tobacco in specialized stores decreased by 5.5%.
Nova Poshta, the leader in express delivery in Ukraine, opens mini departments in all Auchan supermarkets, the press service of the company has reported. Nova Posta opens mini departments in all 26 hypermarkets of Auchan Ukraine Hypermarket network, equipped with the next generation pick-up and drop-off points. The opening of the points continues as part of the expansion and renewal of the network of Nova Posta offices this year to 1,000 offices throughout Ukraine, the press service said.