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99 Ranch Market: new format launched

Albertsons Companies: 1st national grocer to implement AI-driven micro-fulfillment eCommerce solution

US: Inside the Sam’s Club ‘living-lab’
Sam’s Club is launching a new club concept, developed to enable the retailer to test the latest tech-led initiatives and adapt the in-store layout. Located in Dallas, the new club will trade under the Sam’s Cub Now banner. Developed as a technology lab, this will enable the retailer to incubate, test and refine technologies. The goal is to build a customer experience which will be relevant for consumers today and in the future. This will be the only club of this type, although learnings and best practices will be rolled-out across the broader network. At 32,000 sq ft it is significantly smaller than a traditional club, while it also features a fresh new look. New category signage and the stronger use of colour creates a more contemporary look and feel. The retailer will also be testing electronic shelf edge labels, while more than 700 cameras will be added to help manage inventory and optimise the club layout.

US: 99 Ranch Market’s new Cravings format indulges customers
Asian supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market has launched a new format that combines a warehouse-style grocery store with a multi-vendor dining hall. Called Cravings by 99 Ranch Market, the 56,000-square-foot store in Chino, California, serves up a diverse assortment of local and global foods in individual and bulk sizes and caters to both households and foodservice businesses, all in a spacious environment accented by modern décor. “Cravings is larger than the typical 99 Ranch Market store, which ranges from 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet,” said Laney Chung, a spokeswoman for Buena Park, California-based 99 Ranch.

US: Albertsons Companies is the first national grocer to implement AI-driven micro-fulfilment eCommerce solution
Albertsons Companies announced it is partnering with Takeoff Technologies to pilot the micro-fulfilment center concept and Takeoff’s artificial intelligence capabilities, making it the first national grocer to implement an automated eCommerce fulfilment solution for customers. “Investing in e-commerce directly benefit our customers, and anything that we can do to simplify their grocery shopping experience to save valuable time is a win,” said Narayan Iyengar, SVP Digital and eCommerce at Albertsons Cos. “While our partnership with Takeoff Technologies will streamline eCommerce fulfilment and improve our efficiencies, we’re excited that Takeoff’s AI solution will make it even easier for customers to get their groceries how and when they want. This is a major step in our commitment to being a customer-centric player in the digital food and wellness ecosystem.”

Brazil: GPA’s first ‘Compre Bem’ store opening
Brazil-based, Casino-owned GPA has opened the first of its recently converted Compre Bem supermarkets in the state of Sao Paulo. The retailer hopes to convert a further 13 Extra supermarkets to the Compre Bem banner by the end of 2018. The new Compre Bem store is in Taubaté. GPA has invested BRL6mln (US$1.6mln) in the 2,900 sq. m store, which has an assortment of over 7,000 SKUs and a range of services. Discussing the store, Belmiro Gomes, president of Compre Bem, said: “Compre Bem is a genuinely local supermarket with a fully consumer-focused operation. We will be very close to the community, understanding their preferences and needs, to offer the products and services that our customers need.” A large part of the store will be dedicated to fresh fruit and vegetables. Produce is supplied directly to the store, rather than through a distribution centre, to ensure freshness. Sérgio Leite, executive Director of Compre Bem, commented, "These are examples of operational care taken to meet the needs of a demanding consumer, who values a product’s freshness".

Philippines: Robinsons Retail boosts income by nearly 10%
Robinsons Retail Holdings has boosted net income by 9.8% in the first nine months of this year, to PHP 3.8bln (US$70.97mln). The improvement followed on from a 13.1% increase in sales for the period, to PHP 91.8bln ($1.71bln) which the company said was due to “robust” same-store sales growth of 6.6% across all store formats, along with a contribution from new stores. Same-store sales rose by 8.6% in the company’s supermarkets division, which accounts for 46.5% of the group’s total turnover, and by 7.8% in specialty stores and 6.1% in DIY. Same-store sales in the convenience division rose by 4.5%, in drugstores by a more modest 2.9% and department stores 2.4%.

Ireland: Organic Supermarket faces liquidation
A liquidator will be nominated to take control of The Organic Supermarket Ltd, the company behind a chain of Dublin retail outlets and a grocery delivery service. The chain has shops in Blackrock, Rathgar and Malahide - three of the capital's wealthiest suburbs. Accounts for 2017 show it was dependent on shareholders loans. A meeting of creditors has been scheduled for November 9, when Myles Kirby of Kirby Healy Chartered Accountants will be proposed as liquidator. One of the company's main shareholders is also its biggest creditor, according to the most recently filed accounts.

Australia: Woolworths’ sales slow in first quarter
Marking a challenging start to fiscal 2019, Woolworths Group lifted total sales across all sectors just 1.9% to $14.85bln in Q1, compared to 3.7% in the same period last year. Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said that while sales were slow, customer and brand metrics remained strong across the group, thanks to positive responses to the removal of single-use plastic bags. At the same time, however, Woolworths blamed the bag ban for slower supermarket sales while customers acclimated to the change. The bag ban did contribute to a temporary increase in items-per-basket due to customers purchasing reusable bags at checkout, but this trend was on the decline toward the end of the quarter, suggesting customers are beginning to bring their own bags.

Holland: Ahold Delhaize helping to eradicate plastic waste
Ahold Delhaize has teamed up with almost 300 organizations as part of an international effort to eradicate plastic waste and pollution at the source. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, signed by packaging manufacturers, retailers and recyclers representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced worldwide, officially kicked off October 29 at a conference in Bali. “There is tremendous potential for innovation in the transition to more recyclable and reusable plastics,” noted Megan Hellstedt, VP of sustainable retailing for Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize. “We are proud to be part of an initiative that will make it easier to design more sustainable packaging and reduce plastic waste.”

Portugal: Jerónimo Martins sees sales rise 7.3% in first nine months of 2018
Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins has posted a 7.3% increase in sales in the first nine months of the year, to €12.8bln. EBITDA for the period rose 6% to €709mln, while net profit was €242mln, up 2.4% compared to the same period last year. “Our steady focus on sales growth and consumer preference across all banners produced a very good performance in the first nine months of the year,” commented Pedro Soares dos Santos, the group’s chief executive.

France: Leclerc opens its first organic store
Leclerc has opened its first 100% organic store, called ‘The Organic Market’, in Saintes, Charente-Maritime. The retailer hopes to open a further 40 organic-focused stores in 2019 and a total of 200 by 2022. The store concept was first trialled in smaller test stores in Fontaines-les-Dijon, Côte-d'Or in 2017. The 400 sq. m organic store has an assortment of 5,000 SKUs, which are displayed on wooden shelves. There are also crates that hold locally produced fruit and vegetables. Leclerc has said that many organic products sold in other speciality stores are also available but “with prices on average 30% cheaper”. Joseph Chauvet, Leclerc Group's bio manager, commented, "We offer the ‘organic’ reference brands. The offer is more complete, more expert than in our supermarkets. We also offer many products in bulk: cereals, lentils but also laundry, olive oil, wine”. Leclerc will also give “priority to French and, if possible, local products”.

UK: CJ Lang to sell group of company-owned Spar stores in Scotland
Wholesaler CJ Lang, the distributor for Spar stores in Scotland, is to sell off eight company-owned outlets that do not meet its future requirements. The company said the move followed a strategic review of its company-managed division. “There are a small number of stores that do not fit the future operating formats that CJ Lang requires, and it is the company’s intention to place these on the open market and seek buyers for them either individually, or as a portfolio of stores.” It added: “These stores represent an ideal opportunity for independent retailers to be part of the Spar Scotland family, albeit this is not a primary requirement.” It said staff in the affected stores had been informed and consultations were ongoing.

Ireland: SuperValu to invest over €3mln in solar panels for 30 stores
SuperValu, Ireland’s leading grocery retailer, has announced an innovative plan to introduce solar panels to up to 30 of its stores over the next two years. The retailer will install the energy-efficient PV panels to its store network as part of an investment of over €3mln. The move to introduce solar panels is part of SuperValu’s commitment to the reduction of energy consumption across its estate by 20% over the next two years. Once installed, the solar PV panels will generate electricity from the sun and will feed directly into the electricity supply to the store. This will offset some 60,000 kg of CO² annually per store. Apart from providing electricity to each store, some of the electricity generated by the solar panels will also be used to supply energy to electric car charging points at selected stores.

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