US supermarkets stock more non-grocery items

eBay enters fresh food delivery market in S-Korea

US: Village 1Q sales up but expenses weigh on profits
Village Super Market on Wednesday said sales and comps were up by 2.6% in the fiscal first quarter but higher expenses for payroll, benefits and training weighed on profits. The Springfield, N.J., operator of 29 ShopRite stores said sales for the period ended Oct. 24 totaled $389.5m. Comp sales improved primarily due to larger replacement stores in Morristown and Union, N.J., and the expansion of a store in Sterling, N.J., along with a higher average transaction sizes. Net income of $4.4m in the period increased 14.3%, but when adjusted for charges in the year-ago period earnings were down by 21%. (supermarketnews.com)

UK: Morrisons falls out of the FTSE 100
Supermarket chain Morrisons has fallen out of the FTSE 100 following a sharp drop in its share price amid concerns about its recovery plans. The Bradford-based chain had been in the list for more than 14 years but its share price has tumbled in line with falling sales. (BBC)

eBay enters South Korea’s fresh food delivery market
eBay Korea has announced that it is partnering with Homeplus to offer same-day deliveries for online fresh food orders. In a notice posted on its website on Thursday, eBay said: “Korean shoppers, particularly single households and double-income families, are increasingly looking to buy small bundles of fresh produce online and have it delivered the same day. “With this in mind, eBay Korea has partnered with Homeplus, one of the largest retail chains in Korea with more than 100 branches, to create a new offering called Homeplus Pavilion.” The eBay notice said that the company is “offering fresh products such as vegetables, meat and dairy through Korea’s Gmarket and IAC platforms”. (postandparcel.info)

Auchan names Romanian to manage its business in Romania 
French retail group Auchan has named Romanian Ionut Ardeleanu to take over as general manager of Auchan Romania. Ardeleanu, 34, thus becomes one of the most powerful Romanian executives, as he will manage a company with over €1bn in sales. (romania-insider.com)

US supermarkets stock more non-grocery items
Target and Walmart have a new competitor when it comes to general merchandise: grocery stores. With the discount retailers adding more groceries in recent years, some supermarkets are striking back by increasing their selections of non-grocery products, the Omaha World-Herald reports. General merchandise sales at grocery stores still constitute a small percentage (less than 6% in 2011), but that number has been slowly rising, according to the Food Marketing Institute. With the average American dropping by a supermarket 1.5 times weekly, it’s not surprising that “food stores can be good places to merchandise items that aren’t food,” said Jon Springer, retail editor at Supermarket News. (nacsonline.com)

Carrefour reliance on big box format hampering growth potential, says analyst
London-based Bernstein Research has said that while French retailer Carrefour has enjoyed ‘three years of improvement’, its reliance on hypermarkets could hamper its growth going forward. In a briefing note, Bernstein said that ‘great work has been done’ in turning around Carrefour over the past few years, adding that ‘consensus believes that a further 11% EPS growth is possible for the next four years.’ However, it adds that Carrefour still enjoys 85% of its sales from hypermarkets ‘and is showing limited signs of moving away from this skew; while many companies in our coverage are either shrinking the hypermarket footprint or diversifying away, Carrefour remains largely committed to the big box format’. (esmmagazine.com)

SmartLabel initiative to provide product transparency
A new SmartLabel transparency initiative created by retailers and manufacturers will enable consumers to get added information about thousands of products by scanning a QR code on packaging or accessing an online landing page with information about ingredients and other product attributes such as allergens, third-party certifications and social compliance programs. Each individual product in SmartLabel will have a specific landing page containing detailed product information from the manufacturer. (supermarketnews.com)

Irish Topaz to be sold to Couche-Tard
Irish Convenience and fuel retailer Topaz is to be sold to the Canadian retailer Couche-Tard. As a result, the company will join a publicly quoted business with a worldwide network of 15,000 convenience stores and service stations. Topaz CEO Emmet O'Neill described the deal as “game-changer” for retail sector. The company recently completed its takeover of a range of Esso stations. The group has a turnover of about €3.5bn and employs 2,000 staff in over 400 stations. (independent.ie)

AU: Metcash has lured back some brave investors
Long-term backers of Metcash, the supplier to IGA supermarkets, have been bruised over the past year but there is now a hint of greater optimism. After slumping by about 50% in the past 12 months, the stock has made some gains in the past few days. Metcash has showed that its pledge to match the prices of bigger rivals Woolworths and Coles is making some headway and helping to alter perceptions in the marketplace that prices at IGA stores are uncompetitive. The question for investors is whether that shift will eventually translate into higher profits. (smh.com.au)

US: Save-A-Lot taps grocery vet as CEO 
Save-A-Lot, the deep-discount division of grocery giant Supervalu, on Wednesday named a supermarket veteran with more than 30 years of experience as its new CEO. Eric Claus, 59, takes the reins of Save-A-Lot after spending the past two-plus years as chairman, president and CEO of Red Apple Stores Inc., a chain of value retail stores based in Canada. In July 2015, Supervalu announced it was exploring a possible spin-off of Save-A-Lot into a stand-alone public company. The retailer said it is continuing those preparations, but added “there was no assurances that a separation or spin-off of Save-A-Lot will occur, or that any other changes in the company’s overall operations will happen.” (chainstoreage.com)

India: BigBasket set to close Rs 800 crore funding 
Online grocer BigBasket is in the final stages of closing a $120-million, or Rs 800-crore, round of funding, packing in ammunition to fight quick-delivery firms such as Grofers and PepperTap that are threatening to upstage its model. (economictimes.indiatimes.com)

Ireland: SuperValu closes two stores
SuperValu is to close two of its stores in Carlow and Clonmel with the loss of up to 98 jobs from January. Ireland’s largest grocery retailer said the SuperValu on Kennedy Avenue in Carlow and the Supervalu Marketplace in Clonmel would cease trading “due to difficult trading conditions over a sustained period”. (irishtimes.com)

Israel: Mega to close You chain
Israeli supermarket chain's Mega management plans to close its You discount chain in the coming days and by the end of the month at the latest, sources inform "Globes." Mega is preparing to close 22 You stores, while 26 other You and Tzarchania branches will be put up for sale. Mega hopes to pay suppliers NIS 70-100m tomorrow in order to ensure the continued supply of goods to its outlets. (globes.co.il)

UK: Waitrose appoints new head of hospitality
Waitrose has hired Prêt à Manger’s former head of coffee and product launches, Rebecca Hemsley, as its head of hospitality operations, thegrocer.co.uk reports. Waitrose invests time and money into making its supermarkets commodious and salubrious for its shoppers, and so its head of hospitality carries a large degree of responsibility.(esmmagazine.com)

United Natural Foods: organic growth makes it a healthy choice
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3 Core issues facing Whole Foods Market
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