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Greencore: To exit US market

Albertsons: For 3rd consecutive quarter ID sales grow while ecommerce soars

US: Schnucks prepares to complete Shop 'n Save takeover
Schnucks Markets has revealed its plans to revamp the 10 remaining stores that it purchased from now-defunct Shop 'n Save as it completes the rebranding of the first nine supermarkets. The St. Louis-based retailer, which purchased 19 of the 36 Shop 'n Save supermarkets, a stand-alone pharmacy and four fuel centers from Supervalu in September, is "still evaluating the operational requirements" needed for the fuel centers, according to company officials, and has yet to set an opening date. The St. Louis-area stores will be closed for only 63 hours, as were the initial nine rebrands, as crews move in to switch out point-of-sale systems, swap signage to the Schnucks logo and restock shelves. The makeovers will be completed by Oct. 19 and a ceremonial ribbon-cutting will be held at the newly acquired Fenton location to celebrate the collective openings, the retailer said.

Greencore set to exit US market, with £817mln unit sale
Convenience foods giant Greencore has announced the planned sale of its US operations to an affiliate of Hearthside Food Solutions, for £817mln (€926mln) on a cash and debt-free basis. The transaction is at an EV/EBITDA multiple of 13.4x/14.2x2,3, which Greencore said represents a ‘compelling and immediate realisation of value’. Net proceeds from the sale, of £802mln, will lead Greencore to declare a special dividend of 72 pence per ordinary share (totalling £508mln) to its shareholders. The group said that the transaction will ‘support a strengthened balance sheet’, with up to £293mln of the proceeds set to be used to reduce leverage.

US: Albertsons' ID sales grow for 3rd consecutive quarter while ecommerce soars
The Albertsons Cos. reported strong performance during the third quarter of its fiscal 2018, with comparable sales increasing for the third consecutive quarter and impressive growth on both the ecommerce and private label sides. During the period, which ended Sept. 8, sales and other revenue grew 1.4% to $14bln, driven by $140.3mln growth in fuel sales and a 1% rise in identical sales. Comps were partly offset, however, by a reduction in sales related to the closure of 30 stores during the first two quarters of fiscal 2018. Two key highlights include ecommerce sales more than doubling in Q2, growing 113%, and sales penetration of Albertsons' private labels growing 44 basis points to 25%. Also noteworthy: Albertsons has completed store conversions to Safeway's IT systems.

Croatia: Agrokor continues turnaround, posts operating profit gains
Croatian retail and food conglomerate Agrokor is continuing its turnaround, with the latest monthly report from the group's extraordinary administration noting an increase in operating profits in its Food and Retail & Wholesale divisions. Total revenues in retail stood at HRK 8.97bln (€1.21bln) in the period measured, 11 September to 10 October, with the administrators saying that its main retail chain, Konzum, 'continues to operate successfully', posting a 3% year-on-year increase in sales. Konzum benefited from an increased number of transactions as well as a larger average basket size, with strong promotional activities and investment in quality products proving appealing to shoppers, the group said.

Italy: Esselunga hires Zaoui to weigh up stock market listing - source
Italian supermarket chain Esselunga has hired London-based advisory firm Zaoui & Co to assess options including a possible stock market listing, two sources familiar with the matter said. The sources were confirming a report in Italian daily Il Messaggero, which said Zaoui would soon contact banks including Intesa Sanpaolo, UniCredit, Credit Suisse, Mediobanca and Goldman Sachs over Esselunga’s plans. The group could go public next year, the newspaper said, adding that it could be valued at more than 7bln euros ($8.11bln), without clarifying whether this figure included net debt. It was not possible to reach Esselunga and Zaoui for comment.

Mercator sells 10 shopping malls in Slovenia to Supernova
Slovenian retailer Mercator Group has sold 10 shopping malls to Austria’s Supernova for €116.6mln. According to the terms of the contract, Mercator will continue to rent parts of the malls to operate its hypermarkets. Supernova is to acquire the shopping malls Ajdovščina, Celje, Jesenice, Koper I, Kranj Primskovo, Kranj Savski otok, Ljubljana Šiška, Postojna, Novo mesto, and Slovenj Gradec. The contract provides Mercator with a 15-year lease agreement for its hypermarkets, with the possibility of extending this for another 15 years under the same conditions.

Belgium: Carrefour opens ‘Act for Food’ pop-up
In Brussels, Carrefour Belgium has launched a remarkable pop-up concept: its Act for Food Factory is a test lab where the retailer's recent food commitments of the same name take concrete shape. In the Act for Food Factory in Ixelles, consumers can come for breakfast or lunch. The changing menu includes soups, quiches and other lunch dishes; the focus is on organic, sustainable and local food. Customers can buy the products of the Carrefour Bio brand, but also fresh products such as fruit and vegetables, herbs, meats and cheeses. The concrete commitments of the 'Act for Food' programme in Belgium are written on the walls.

France: Twelve supermarkets and hypermarkets operated by the Quattrucci family join the Casino Group
The Casino Group announces the signing, on 12 October 2018, of a partnership with the Quattrucci family where twelve stores which specialize in fresh products and are currently operated by Claude, Bruno Quattrucci and their children, will join the Casino Group. As of 1 January 2019, these stores will be supplied by the Casino Group. Seven of them will be operated under the "marché frais Géant" banner and the other five will operate under the "marché frais Leader Price" banner. These stores, located in the Ile-de-France region and the Oise department, generated more than 300mln euros sales in 2017. This partnership, while operating under these two Casino Group banners, will preserve the concept developed by the Quattrucci family and which has ensured its success: interior design in the spirit of covered markets, a strong focus on fresh products available in self-service, a well-designed assortment of consumer products, making it possible to offer a complete and high quality range of products at low prices.

UK: Ocado in drive to add electric vehicles to delivery fleet
Online grocer Ocado has been operating two electric vehicles in its fleet of circa 1,500 online delivery vans since 2010, but advances in technology, changes in regulation and a continued desire to improve eco credentials means that number is set to grow. The supermarket group has acquired 15 Fiat chassis from BD Auto, a Turkish company that entered the UK market in 2017 which converts vans into electric-powered vehicles. Five are expected to be in operation within the Ocado fleet in January 2019, while the other ten will be developed and then added over the course of next year. Mark Bentley, director of service delivery at Ocado, says if the move is successful more electric vehicles will be purchased and then rolled out to the grocer’s delivery network, but he acknowledges it is something of a “leap of faith” because the project isn’t supported by mainstream van manufacturers. The environmentally-friendliness of its operations is something Ocado takes seriously, he adds.

Online customer satisfaction survey in Finland
Lidl Finland has introduced an online survey to enable shoppers to give feedback on their shopping experience. The survey covers areas such as the tidiness of stores, the quality of customer service and the accessibility of products. All feedback given remains anonymous and will help measure overall customer satisfaction. Before completing the survey, shoppers enter their receipt number to leave feedback for an individual store. After completion, shoppers can choose to leave their contact details for a chance to win a Lidl gift voucher. Commenting on the online survey, Mari Larmas, a representative for Lidl, said, “The new customer survey is about the success of an individual trade fair - how well we managed this time and whether we can do something better next time.”

Australia: Wesfarmers grocery unit total sales in first quarter up 5%
Australian retail conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd said that total first-quarter sales at its soon-to-be-spun-off supermarket division, Coles, grew 5%, helped by a promotional campaign and investments in its flybuys loyalty programme. Sales came in at A$9.84bln ($7bln) for the Coles grocery unit for the three months to Sept. 30, the company said in a statement. It did not give prior guidance and analysts do not give quarterly forecasts for the company. It was Wesfarmers’ last trading update about the Australian No. 2 grocery chain before it proceeds with a plan to spin it off next month and free up capital for higher-margin investments.

France: Intermarché launches ‘Bien Chez Moi’ store concept
Intermarché has launched its new store concept called ‘Bien Chez Moi’, after announcing its initial plan in May 2018. The new concept is intended to support seniors and is being trialled in Intermarché's shopping gallery in Flers. The 200 sq m pilot store offers 1,200 products covering four areas; health and wellbeing, home support, world leisure and technology. Products range from essential oils to stairlifts and from sports accessories to security installations. There is also a flexible space where workshops and conferences can be arranged. The workshops will offer seniors advice on how to sleep better, improve their diet, among other things. If the concept is successful, it could be expanded throughout France. However, Intermarché has yet to disclose further plans.

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