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Jerónimo Martins acquires 5 Piotr i Pawel stores in Poland

Tesco: 11th consecutive quarter of rising sales

Eco-merger in Holland: Ekoplaza buys Natuurwinkel
Dutch Udea, parent company of eco-store chain Ekoplaza, has acquired competitor Natuurwinkel for an undisclosed amount. When both organic chains join forces, they will have more than 100 stores. Natuurwinkel will add a 30mln turnover to Ekoplaza's 120mln, while Belgian distributor Hagor and Dutch wholesaler Kroon also move from Vroegop Ruhe to Udea. The added power should help Ekoplaza fill its new distribution center in Veghel, which has proven to be a huge cost and therefore turnover growth is necessary for the organic chain. Natuurwinkel stores would continue under the Ekoplaza flag, says general manager Erik Does in Dutch newspaper FD: "We will start a dialogue with Natuurwinkel franchisers about rebranding to Ekoplaza, but we will not pressure them into changing."

Belgium: Delhaize introduces new store layout
Delhaize has opened a new store, which it says is ‘based on the brand’s updated positioning’. The retailer also said the layout focuses on shoppers’ expectations and needs. The Nivelles supermarket is the first Delhaize supermarket to be redesigned to fit the new store layout. A further eight stores will be transformed by the end of 2018 and an additional 36 in 2019. Delhaize will invest €600mln in the stores’ redevelopment over the course of 3 years. The new store has been designed to allow shoppers a ‘short route’ for a quick and convenient shopping trip. The store also features a Fresh Atelier where salads, sandwiches and hot meals are freshly prepared. Fresh juices and soups are made from unsold fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste. An on-site butcher’s, children’s area and reusable cotton bags for bakery goods and fruit and vegetables are also available.

UK: Tesco says growth continues as sales rise again
Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket chain, has reported an 11th consecutive quarter of rising sales. Across the Tesco group like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new stores, were up 4.2% in the second quarter. Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said this was the best sales growth in more than a decade. Sales at Booker, the food wholesaler that Tesco bought at the end of last year, jumped 15.1%. The firm had "made a good start to the year", Mr Lewis said, with profits mainly driven by growth in the UK and Ireland.

Germany: Retail sales rise as expected in August
Germany's retail sales increased at a faster pace in August driven by higher food and non-food product turnover, figures from Destatis showed. Retail sales grew by real 1.6% year-on-year in August, faster than the 0.9% expansion seen a month ago. The annual rate came in line with expectations. Data showed that food, beverages and tobacco sales advanced 2.5% and non-food sales gained 1%.

7-Eleven Japan in switch to R448A
The convenience store Seven-Eleven is said to be the first Japanese retail chain to switch its R404A refrigeration systems to the lower GWP R448A. Seven-Eleven has begun installing the new refrigerant in Hitachi-Johnson Controls condensing units at all new and refurbished stores across the country. Seven-Eleven Japan operates over 20,000 Seven-Eleven convenience stores. Marketed by Honeywell as Solstice N40, Seven-Eleven’s adoption of R448A will enable the retailer to comply with the new Japanese Act on Rational Use and Proper Management of Fluorocarbons, which requires the use of refrigerants with a GWP of 1500 or less by the year 2025.

Circle K UAE to expand its network
Circle K UAE will celebrate its 10th year operating in the UAE by expanding its convenience store network. The retailer hopes to operate 100 convenience stores by the end of 2019. Circle K UAE is planning to expand its network within the next five years. The retailer currently operates 35 convenience stores in the UAE and hopes to reach a total of 100 by 2019. The retailer has said it is aiming to target tourist and commercial locations to boost sales.

UK: Ocado crowned best performer in FTSE 350 with shares up 126% this year
Ocado has been crowned the best performer of the FTSE 350 so far this year as confidence in the online grocer continues to grow. At the turn of the fourth quarter of 2018, Ocado’s share prices have jumped a whopping 126% from 329.5p in January to 898.8p this month. “Ocado’s been the stand out performer so far this year after sealing a deal with the US supermarket group Kroger to license out its technology,” Hargreaves Lansdown’s senior analyst Laith Khalaf said.

Sweden: Coop Sverige pilots click & collect service
Until now, Coop’s shoppers have only been offered a home delivery service for ecommerce. Coop has announced it will offer three further online fulfilment options in future. First, shoppers can collect their online orders instore; second, shoppers can collect their orders from an alternative locker; and third, shoppers can collect their orders via a drive-thru. The options available to shoppers will depend on stores’ size, location and popularity. Coop will trial the click and collect service in its stores in Gothenburg and Falun. Coop hopes to roll out the service to other stores, though no further dates or locations have been confirmed.

Portugal's Jerónimo Martins acquires five Piotr i Pawel stores in Poland
Portuguese retail group Jerónimo Martins has bought five stores from one of its Polish competitors - Piotr i Pawel. According to Portuguese daily Jornal de Negócios, the stores have already started operating under the Biedronka banner, which is owned by Jerónimo Martins. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

UK: M&S trials checkout-free shopping
Six London stores will trial the new "Mobile, Pay, Go" technology before Christmas. Edgware and Waterside Simply Food stores in London are already trialling the new payment method, with positive early results. At the Waterside branch, 20% of sales are being made through Mobile, Pay, Go, with an average of 170 items being purchased through the app per hour. West Hampstead, Bankside, Canary Wharf and Stratford Westfield will be the next stores to join the trial.

US: Chicago grocery chain Treasure Island to close
After 55 years in the Chicago grocery business, family-owned grocery chain Treasure Island is closing its six-store network for good, effective October 12. According to the Chicago Tribune, the grocer posted signs in its store windows reading “Everything must go!” and “All sales final,” with many of its product items on sale. “We have done everything we could to attempt to get the company on solid ground to try to operate for another 55 years,” CEO Maria Kamberos said, according to a note to employees.

US: PK Market arriving in Los Angeles
South Korean retail giant Shinsegae will open a PK Market pilot store in Los Angeles under its PK Retail Holdings subsidiary, reports the Los Angeles Times. The supermarket and convenience store operator so far has opened just two locations in Seoul. When it opens in L.A. at the end of 2019, PK Market will feature a food hall and a grocery mart. New York retail analyst Burt Flickinger expects PK Market to challenge Whole Foods. "PK Markets are very good operators," Flickinger says. "They can really run the table against Whole Foods and get scale beyond this opening salvo of a store," according to the report.

US: Target enhancing range with digitally-native brands
Target is adding two digitally-native brands, quip and Native, to its in-store offer as it continues to focus on building a unique product range. Target has previously worked with several digitally-native brands to help them develop a presence within its stores. Men’s grooming brand, Harry’s, has been the most prominent of these, with its range of products anchoring its newly-launched men’s beauty zones. It was also the first to feature online mattress company, Casper, within its stores.

US: Takeoff Technologies partners with Sedano’s Supermarkets to launch the world’s first robotic supermarket
Takeoff Technologies, an eGrocery solution that empowers retailers to attain profitable online growth by leveraging automation at a hyperlocal scale, announced the launch of the first automated hyperlocal fulfilment center, referred to as the world’s first robotic supermarket in partnership with one of the largest Hispanic grocers in the U.S., Sedano’s Supermarkets. This groundbreaking technology is expected to launch in the upcoming month, bringing innovative automation and transforming eGrocery economics. Customer orders will be placed via an online app and carried out by Takeoff’s automated Micro-Fulfillment Center, with the support of Sedano’s employees. AI-enabled robots assemble full supermarket orders of up to 60 items in just a few minutes - a fraction of the speed and cost of current manual picking options.

Amazon ups minimum wage to $15 for all U.S. employees
Amazon has revealed that it will raise its minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary - including those hired by agencies - and seasonal employees across the United States, effective November 1. The move will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, in addition to 100,000-plus seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this coming holiday season. “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Amazon. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

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