US: Kroger seeing payoff from employee investment
Investments behind The Kroger Co.'s workforce are having an outsized impact on employee retention, which is in turn improving customer experience in stores and the company’s costs to serve, Tim Massa, the company’s chief people officer, said in a presentation during the retailer’s annual report to investors. After announcing a year ago a $500mln investment in employee wages, training and benefits as part of the Restock Kroger initiative, employee turnover is down 9.4% while average hourly worker wages are up 3.3% to $14.47 per hour, Massa said. And employees who do leave Kroger are staying longer before they exit, he added. For a company employing 460,000 workers, that’s a big accomplishment, Massa said, “but we’re nowhere near done.”
US: Sears, chairman, lenders seek bankruptcy loan breakthrough: sources
Sears Holdings Corp is in discussions with Chairman Eddie Lampert and lenders on a deal to expand a bankruptcy financing package that would help it avoid liquidation, people familiar with the matter said. The negotiations come at a critical time for Sears, as it needs enough money to keep its shelves stocked during the holiday shopping season and retain enough support from creditors and vendors to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15 with a plan to close about 142 of its 700 stores by the end of the year, throwing into doubt the future of the 125-year-old retailer that once dominated U.S. malls but has withered in the age of internet shopping.
US: Peapod steps up e-grocery service on Long Island
Ahold Delhaize USA’s Peapod online grocery unit is looking to expand its service on metropolitan New York’s Long Island. Chicago-based Peapod said Friday that it has opened a 10,000-square-foot “wareroom” at the Stop & Shop supermarket in East Northport, New York. The facility stands to boost order delivery capabilities by 10% in the New York region and create 125 jobs, the company said. Peapod now has five warerooms operating out of Long Island. The East Northport site joins facilities in Medford, South Setauket, Riverhead and Farmingdale. "With this expansion, we can reach more homes and offer even more capacity to serve both new and existing customers,” Walt Lentz, interim president of Peapod, said in a statement. “Expanding our delivery and pickup service is just one more way that Peapod is making the lives of our customers easier."
US: Weis Markets’ Q3 net income surges
Weis Markets Inc.'s third quarter of fiscal 2018 saw favorable sales results, including major growth in its net income compared to the same period the year before. While Weis Markets saw its third-quarter sales rise 1.7% to $869.1mln from the same period in 2017, and its third quarter comparable-store sales edge up 0.7%, for the 13-week period ended September 29, the Mid-Atlantic grocer’s net income ballooned 219.3% to $14.2mln, from $4.4mln in 2017, and its third-quarter earnings per share soared 37 cents to 53 cents per share.
India: Amazon goes shopping for Future Retail, to buy 9.5% stake
Amazon is set to acquire a minority stake in Future Retail next week, potentially giving the ecommerce platform access to nearly a third of the country’s organised food and grocery market through the Big Bazaar and Nilgiris supermarket chains and other outlets. The deal by Amazon’s investment arm is pegged at about Rs 2,500 crore (USD 340mln). Future Retail has more than 1,100 physical stores across India. “Amazon, through the foreign portfolio investor (FPI) route, will buy about 9.5% stake in Future Retail and has already signed a term sheet. The deal will be announced after board approval on November 14,” said one of two people aware of the matter.
Italy: Aldi announces strategy to minimise packaging waste
Aldi Italia has announced a new strategy - Aldi, Mission Im-Ballo! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - for the reduction and reuse of packaging waste. In line with its social responsibility commitments, the retail giant has designed a series of initiatives involving collaborators, suppliers, producers and end consumers to reduce and reuse packaging materials, and maximise their recyclability. According to the strategy, by the end of 2025, the retailer will cut down the total weight of private label packaging by 25% compared to the turnover of 2018. By 2022, it will also verify the recyclability of all types of packaging used in its private label products. Further, it aims to replace all plastic products with more sustainable alternatives by the end of 2019. By the end of 2020, all paper packaging used by Aldi Italia will either comprise 70% recycled material, or will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC).
Switzerland: Coop launches ‘Fine Food’ range for the holiday season
With the holiday season around the corner, retail giant Coop has launched a range of gourmet food items that are apt for gifting. The range, Coop Fine Food, includes desserts, cookies, wasabi coated pistachios, and regional specialities like caponata. All the items have a story behind their origin, and have been carefully selected to qualify as a gourmet gifting option. Customers can also opt for a gourmet basket, which will contain more than one item. Starting mid-November, baskets in two sizes will also be available large Coop supermarkets, Coop City food stores, and Coop @ home.
Maxima launches new concept store in Bulgaria
Lithuanian retail chain Maxima has opened its new concept store in Bulgaria. The company has invested nearly BGN 2mln (€1mln) in the new T Market Express store in Sofia, which is spread across an area of 1,200 square metres. The new supermarket is modern in design, with quality and convenience as its central focus. The social zone in the store is open 24/7, and offers free internet access, smartphone charging, and a wide range of healthy and organic foods. Around 20 hot and cold sandwiches, 30 types of cooked meals, and 15 different fresh salads will be prepared every day at the supermarket. The freshly-baked, grilled products are made in T Market’s own premises from 100% Bulgarian meat. A variety of organic foods without sugar and gluten, rice products, nuts, seeds, as well as squeezed fruit jams also await visitors around the clock.
Ireland's Musgrave Group acquires sole control of Donnybrook Fair
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has cleared the acquisition of gourmet store operator Donnybrook Fair by Ireland’s Musgrave Group. Musgrave Group public limited company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Superquinn Limited, will now acquire sole control of Donnybrook Fair Limited and its subsidiaries. In September of this year, Musgrave had announced that it would acquire the gourmet store operator, subject to approval of the CCPC. According to the Commission, the transaction will not substantially lessen competition in any market for goods or services in the state.
Sweden’s ICA acquires 42% shares in Min Doktor
Swedish retailer ICA Gruppen has announced that it has completed investment in 42% shares of digital primary care services provider Min Doktor through Apotek Hjärtat. The company has met all the customary terms, and acquired regulatory approvals necessary to complete the acquisition. Handelsbanken Capital Markets and Lindahls Advokatbyrå served as advisers to ICA Gruppen and Apotek Hjärtat. In September of this year, the retailer had announced about the investment, that would allow it to offer digital support in its Minutklinikens drop-in clinics.
Ireland: Applegreen secures controlling stake in welcome break
Forecourt retailer Applegreen has completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in UK motorway service and hotels operator Welcome Break. In a statement on Applegreen's website, the Irish business said that it will now be responsible for 'strategy and operational matters' at Welcome Break. The deal, worth €360mln, was first announced by Applegreen at the beginning of August. Applegreen said that it has entered into discussions with Arjun Infrastructure Partners (AIP), the other major shareholder in Welcome Break, regarding a further motorway service area asset which 'may be transferred by Applegreen to Welcome Break for additional equity in Welcome Break and a corresponding cash investment by AIP'.