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Albertsons plans to buy Rite Aid in cash-and-stock deal

Walmart: 4% sales grow in Q4, but e-commerce cools

Walmart sales up 3.4% in Canada
Canada was a bright spot for Walmart in the company’s fourth quarter earnings report. Net sales in Canada grew 3.4% in the three month period that ended Jan. 31. and same-store sales increased 2.9% compared to the year before. Meanwhile, same-store traffic at Walmart’s Canadian stores rose 1.4% during the quarter and tickets were up 1.5%.

US: Albertsons to buy Rite Aid in cash-and-stock deal

US grocer Albertsons plans to buy drugstore owner Rite Aid in a deal that would accelerate the remaking of the US retail and health-care industries. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons plans to acquire the parts of Rite Aid that are left over after a separate sale of nearly 2,000 stores, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the companies’ chief executive officers. The cash-and-stock deal would create a company with annual revenue of $83bln and is expected to close by summer, subject to regulatory approval.

US: Walmart Q4 sales grow 4%, but e-commerce cools
Walmart reported total revenue of $136.3bln for the fourth quarter, a 4.1% increase over the year-ago period. (Excluding currency, the increase was lower, at 3.1%.) Comparable sales in the U.S. were up 2.6% in Q4, and Walmart said that on a two-year stack, comps were the best in eight years with a 4.4% increase. E-commerce sales increased 23% in the quarter, a marked slowdown from 50% in Q3 and 60% in Q2. For the full fiscal year, Walmart brought in $500.3bln, a 3% year-over-year increase, and e-commerce sales grew 44%. Operating income for the year was $20.4bln, a 10.2% decrease. The company also said it has recorded a provisional $207mln benefit for the year from 2017's tax bill. For the upcoming fiscal year, the company projects comp growth of 2%, e-commerce growth of 40% and earnings per share of up to $5.

Italy: Unes celebrates performance in 2017
Unes’s president and chief executive, Mario Gasbarrino, announced that the retailer saw turnover grow by 4.6% in 2017. Gasbarrino said growth was driven by its private labels, especially Il Viaggiator Goloso, and its U2 supermarket format. 2017 was a record year for Il Viaggiator Goloso, which generated sales of €95mln, up 63% on 2016, which has led to the opening of a third store under the same brand name. Finally, Gasbarrino said that he expected 2018 to drive even stronger growth for Il Viaggiator Goloso, with its turnover likely to reach €138mln.

Ireland: Suppliers to Lidl get chance to shine in Europe
Discount retailer Lidl is on track to export €300ml of Irish produce by 2020, with strong growth in demand for craft beers, cream liquor and grass-fed beef. The news comes as the chain launches its latest Kick Start supplier development programme to give small producers a chance to have their products on shelves in its 153 stores in the Republic of Ireland. The limited-edition 'Best of Ireland' food promotion will run in September, with 80 products chosen and three of those sold in Lidl stores elsewhere in Europe. Liam Casey, Lidl commercial director, said they were working with over 200 Irish suppliers sourced through an 80-strong purchasing team.

UK: Asda sees sales rise 2.0% in Q4, despite traffic decline

UK retailer Asda has posted a 2.0% increase in net sales in the fourth quarter of the year, according to Q4 sales figures posted by its parent Walmart. Comparable sales were up 0.5% for the period, however traffic to its stores was down 1.6%, the retailer said. Asda said that during the quarter, it experienced 'improved in-store service scores', while performance 'strengthened' across its private label and grocery offerings. 'Gross profit rate in the quarter declined driven by on-going price investments,' it added.

AUS: Wesfarmers first-half profit dives 87% to $212mln
Wesfarmers has taken an 86.6% hit to its bottom line in the first half of FY18, reporting a $212mln profit. A year ago Wesfarmers recorded a $1.577bln profit for the same time period. The profit downgrade was a result of large writedowns on Wesfarmers UK hardware business and the performance of its local retailer Target. Wesfarmers is the parent company of a number of well-known Australian brands including Coles, Bunnings, Target, Kmart, Officeworks and Liquorland.

UK: McColl's posts sales of over £1bln, boosted by acquisitions

UK convenience retailer McColl's has posted sales of £1.13bln in 2017, up by 19.1% compared to the previous year, following the 'successful integration' of nearly 300 newly-acquired stores. Total like-for-like sales were up by 0.1%, with growth in key grocery categories, according to the retailer. Gross margin was up by 60 basis points to 25.7%, reflecting a higher mix of convenience stores and an improved product mix, and profit before tax increased from £17.7mln to £18.4mln.
India: Startup company Gifto offers 'camera commerce'
Offline shopping is the best way for product discovery, provides proximity and intimacy with a product, while ecommerce provides easier checkouts. CamCommerce (Camera Commerce) can bridge this gap, and provides a unique way of product discovery (closest to the in-store experience) using a phone camera, assisted by computer vision Artificial Intelligence technology, and the ease of online checkouts. CamCom app defaults to the phone camera. CEO Umesh claims Gifto’s technology can be used by any large grocer to grade the quality of perishable items like vegetables. This technology can also be embedded in warehouse goods to grade and identify the quality of the lot, and Umesh claims it can even help identify rotten vegetables from good ones.

AUS: Coles to expand click-to-collect nationally
Coles will expand its click-to-collect offering to over 520 more supermarkets nationally by the end of the financial year as it plays catch-up with rival Woolworths. In financial filings, Coles said it would roll out click-and-collect across its supermarket and Coles Express networks. It currently has 280 sites nationally that support click-to-collect, and the expansion will mean “more than 800 sites” being enabled by the end of FY18.

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