Ahold/Delhaize need to sell US stores | Sobeys lowers prices of fresh

Instacart and Whole Foods promise to offer largest range of fresh

CA: Target continues to focus on improving fresh produce
Target Corp. is focused on getting its food business in balance with opportunities for growth, said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO. In 2016, the company will continue to focus on showcasing more organic products and improving the freshness of each store’s product assortment. (meatpoultry.com)

CA: Sobeys cutting fresh food prices in West in bid to woo customers
Grocer Sobeys Inc. is cutting its fresh food prices in Western Canada as it feels the pressure of low-cost rivals touting their discounts in oil-struck markets and stealing away business. Sobeys is being hit with fewer customers coming to its stores and eroding profit margins and sales, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan, company executives said on Thursday after posting disappointing third-quarter results. Sobeys’ third quarter sales increased by 1.5% to $6.0bn, with same-store sales up 0.4%. Excluding the impact of fuel and the retail West business unit, same-store sales would have increased by 2.7%. The parent of the Sobeys chain said net losses in the period totaled $1bn (U.S.), triggered by a $1.3bn impairment charge related to its assets in Western Canada. Excluding the effects of the write-down, earnings declined by 36.1% to $62.1m (U.S.) in the quarter, while sales grew 1.5% to $4.5bn. (theglobeandmail.com / igd.com/ supermarketnews.com)

Ahold Delhaize will have to sell American stores
Analysts feel Ahold and Delhaize will have to sell 85 to 100 American stores in order to get their merger approved. Most of those stores would probably be on the American East Coast, where the merger company would otherwise become too dominant. “That number may seem high at first, but when you realize they have 2,070 supermarkets, it is a relatively limited impact on the merger company. It is definitely not something that could hinder the merger", Belgian business paper De Tijd said. (retaildetail.eu)

Carrefour in talks to enter Israel market with victory deal
Carrefour SA, France’s largest retailer, is in talks to invest in Victory Supermarket Chain Ltd., seeking a slice of Israel’s almost $9bn retail market. Stocks in Victory jumped to a record after the Gan Yavne, Israel-based chain confirmed press reports it’s in talks with Carrefour about an investment. The possible deal comes as Victory is planning to submit a bid for Alon Blue Square Israel Ltd.’s debt-ridden Mega Supermarket Chain, the company said in a Tel Aviv bourse filing. (esmmagazine.com)

Eurospin top for sales growth and profitability in Italy
Low cost supermarket chain Eurospin recorded growth in sales of 48.7% between 2010 and 2014 – the highest in Italy during the period – going from €2.77bn to €4.12bn. This compares to average growth for the Italian food retail sector of 1.5% in the same period. According to research conducted by Mediobanca, Eurospin was also top for profitability, measured in return of equity and profit margin. (esmmagazine.com)

Turkish discounter BİM records growth of 21% for 2015
Turkish discount supermarket BİM has recorded growth of 21% and turnover of TL17.4bn (approximately €5.4bn) for 2015. The retailer chose not to pass increased purchase prices in Turkey on to its customers in 2014, helping it to retain shoppers and see a 48% increase in profitability in 2015 compared with the previous year. (esmmagazine.com)

Croatia: Roda stores in Montenegro to rebrand as Idea
Montenegrin retailer Mercator-CG, owned by Croatian food-to-retail giant Agrokor, has announced it will rebrand all of its stores from Roda to Idea. The rebranding has already started in Herceg-Novi, where 19 Idea stores have been opened, and the whole process should be completed within one month. (esmmagazine.com)

Instacart and Whole Foods expand partnership 
Today, the companies officially announced plans to expand their partnership and increase the number of Whole Foods Market stores with dedicated Instacart shoppers by up to 50% nationwide by the end of 2016. According to a representative for the companies, the expansion plans means that Whole Foods and Instacart will "deliver more fresh groceries to households in the U.S. than anyone else." The first two markets coming this year are Orange County, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. (zdnet.com)

Carrefour maintains plan for IPO of property unit Carmila
Carrefour SA, France’s largest retailer, said it’s still waiting for the right moment for an initial public offering of its shopping mall property unit as it reported higher full-year profit. The division, called Carmila, still plans an IPO, CFO Pierre-Jean Sivignon said on a call to reporters, though he declined to be drawn on whether that means this year. The property company might be worth €4.5bn ($5bn), according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne. (esmmagazine.com)

Meet the man behind Whole Foods's idea to sell 'ugly' produce
This week, Whole Foods announced that it is moving in the decidedly hip direction of offering less-than-attractive fruits and vegetables to its customers. Please, click here to read an interview with the founder of Imperfect Produce, Ben Simon. 

Carrefour struggles in China
Carrefour SA shares fell in Paris after full-year profit growth at France’s largest retailer was held back by losses in China. Carrefour is making an operating loss in China, where the retailer is seeking to tackle a shift by shoppers toward convenience. China, which accounts for about 5% of sales, “remains a substantial spot of weakness for the group,” said Michael Romer, an analyst at Bank J Safra Sarasin. (Bloomberg)

UK: Sainsbury’s told to hurry up with bid
Sainsbury’s and South African retail group Steinhoff need to hurry up and decide whether they want to make a formal bid for Argos, according to the boss of the catalogues chain. Both companies have said they are eyeing a takeover of the retailer, but neither has put forward a formal offer. (standard.co.uk)

UK: Full year results Waitrose are encouraging
Waitrose has reported encouraging full year results with profits proving resilient, despite a fall in like-for-like sales. For the 52 weeks to Jan 30th, gross sales increased by 1.1%* on the prior year with like-for-like sales down by 1.3%* as the business competed harder on price. Operating profit however held almost steady at £232m reflecting a drive to improve productivity in branches, reduce head office costs and deliver operational improvements in the supply chain. (igd.com)

Irish Aldi expands premium range
Aldi Ireland, the German discounter that yesterday opened its 123rd store, is expanding its range of premium products by a third to capitalise on renewed confidence and predilection for luxury among post- recession Irish consumers. It is not clear if the expansion of its range of premium products will include fruit and vegetables. (irishtimes.com)

Casino's Big C Vietnamese stores said to attract Lotte, TCC bids
South Korea’s Lotte Group is among suitors that submitted bids for French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA’s Vietnam grocery business, which could fetch as much as $800m, people with knowledge of the matter said. Billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Holding Co. and Central Group, controlled by Thailand’s Chirathivat family, also submitted first-round offers by the March 10 deadline, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. (esmmagazine.com)

Zimbabwe: Meikles sees turnover up 12% in first nine months
Zimbabwe-based Meikles has said revenue has risen 12% to US$347m in the first nine months of its financial year. The company said that its operating income margin improved during the timeframe too, reaching 21.8%. Meanwhile, in a separate announcement, the company said that it remained focused on driving expansion of its various businesses, with five Pick n Pay stores set to open before the end of 2016, while nine Mega Market stores will be added and four stores will be renovated. (igd.com)

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