Belgium: Liège officially becomes Alibaba's first European hub
Alibaba has chosen the Belgian city of Liège as the home of its logistics hub. Despite a late diplomatic challenge by the Netherlands, the first flights from China have arrived in Belgium just after the major sales event of Singles' Day. There is no physical warehouse or any other infrastructure for Alibaba as of yet, but this year's Singles' Day saw the first planes flying between the Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou and Liège. The Walloon city is now officially the first logistics hub in Europe for the Chinese e-commerce giant. The self-made festival has generated 27bln euros of sales for Alibaba this year, and some of the orders were flown to the new hub right away.
France: retailer Casino to pay interim dividend despite fund critics
French retailer Casino, whose shares have been under pressure due to concerns over the financial situation of parent Rallye said it would pay an interim dividend of €1.56 per share for 2018, unchanged from the 2017 payout. Rallye is engaged in a row about how it calculates its accounts, with some hedge funds arguing its methodology flatters the company's net value. The funds have also criticised the payment by Casino of a dividend. Casino is the main asset of Rallye, which has a 51% stake in the company.
German rival aims at Amazon with a warehouse that ‘plays Tetris’
In an industrial park outside Cologne, German grocer Rewe Group is fighting back against Amazon.com Inc. with what it describes as the most technologically sophisticated online-shopping facility in Europe. The closely held retailer’s building, the size of 2 1/2 soccer fields, holds 20,000 items from drinks to diapers, twice as many as a typical supermarket. Products are stored in half a dozen distinct cooling zones. Orders are assembled with the help of a towering labyrinth of carriages, elevators and conveyors synchronized by the company’s algorithms, before they’re loaded on trucks and shipped out across a roughly 1,000-square-mile region from the Dutch border to Dusseldorf.
Carrefour Belgium and Provera Belux enter into a purchasing alliance
Carrefour Belgium and the Provera Belux central buying office have announced that they have entered into an agreement for jointly purchasing products for Belgium and Luxembourg. This partnership currently concerns the 140 main suppliers, mainly operating in the fast-moving consumer goods and general goods sectors. Through this partnership, Carrefour Belgium's purchasing managers will buy goods for both parties. All of the brands concerned will remain independent and will retain their own sales dynamics. Starting on 1 January 2019, Carrefour Belgium's purchasing managers will enter into negotiations with the 140 main suppliers - mainly operating in the fast-moving consumer goods and general goods sectors - for the 800 or so Carrefour Belgium stores (Carrefour Hypermarkets, Carrefour Market stores, Carrefour Express stores and Drive outlets), as well as for the 600 or so Belgian and Luxembourg stores and retail outlets that are members of Provera (Cora, Louis Delhaize, MATCH, Smatch and Delitraiteur). By entering into this agreement, Carrefour Belgium becomes Belgium's second largest central buying office. All of the brands concerned will remain responsible for their own sales and promotion policies.
European businesses help lift South Africa's Spar FY earnings
South African retailer and wholesaler Spar Group Ltd reported a 1.4% increase in full-year headline earnings, boosted by improving contributions from its European businesses. Spar, a grocery chain which also sells building materials and medicine in Southern Africa, said headline earnings per share rose to 965.7 cents for the year-ended September from 952.8 cents a year earlier.
Germany: Aldi Süd appoints new Hofer CEO
Aldi Süd has appointed Horst Leitner as the new CEO of its Hofer subsidiary. Leitner will take office on 1 December 2018. Leitner will replace Günther Helm, who has held the title of head of Hofer since 2010. Helm has decided to leave Aldi to “pursue new professional challenges”. Aldi commented, “Helm contributed decisively to the definition of the strategic orientation of the Hofer Group and not least to the successful entry into the Italian market. Under his leadership, the process of developing the international strategies of the entire group have been decisively pursued”. Leitner joined Aldi in 1992 and took over the central purchasing of Hofer in 2006. In 2016, Leitner was appointed as a member of the board of Directors of Aldi USA, where he currently sits.
UK: Sainsbury's-Asda deal 'extremely detrimental' to consumers, says supplier
Sainsbury’s proposed takeover of Asda would be “extremely detrimental” to consumers, an unidentified major supplier to the supermarket groups has argued in a submission to Britain’s competition regulator. Sainsbury’s agreed in April a 7.3bln pounds ($9.5bln) cash and shares takeover of Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) Asda - a combination that could overtake Tesco as Britain’s biggest supermarket group if it is approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA is currently investigating the deal and seeking views from interested parties. It said last month it expected to issue provisional findings early next year.
US: Nielsen, Microsoft align to democratize retail data with AI
Nielsen and Microsoft have embarked on a major partnership to develop a new enterprise solution that the companies say is poised to “democratize” data assets in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and retail marketplace. The new alliance between the two companies will apply the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide retail trading partners access to powerful analytics based on customer and industry data “to enable companies to more easily detect emerging trends, diagnose performance gaps and act faster on emerging growth opportunities,” according to a press release.
US: Ford and Walmart collaborate to design automated-vehicle delivery
Ford Motor, Walmart and delivery service Postmates will collaborate to design a service for delivering groceries and other goods to Walmart customers that could someday use autonomous vehicles, the companies said. The project is the latest to grow out of Ford's broader effort to develop businesses that could use automated delivery vehicles. Ford was working with San Francisco-based Postmates already to develop delivery services that could employ automated vehicles. The Walmart pilot initially will use human-driven vehicles operated to simulate how a self-driving vehicle would behave, Ford said. Ford has said it expects to launch commercial production of automated vehicles by 2021.
Canada: Loblaw reports 2018 third quarter results
Loblaw Companies Limited ("Loblaw" or the "Company") announced its unaudited financial results for the third quarter ended October 6, 2018. The Company's 2018 Third Quarter Report to Shareholders will be available in the Investors section of the Company's website at loblaw.ca and will be filed with SEDAR and available at sedar.com. "We delivered strong financial results in the third quarter and we are pleased with the performance across our retail business," said Galen G. Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Loblaw Companies Limited. "Our strategy continues to build momentum as our data-driven insights and process and efficiency initiatives enable us to make additional investments in our future."
Amazon selects New York City and Northern Virginia for new headquarters
Amazon announced to have selected New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for their new headquarters. Amazon will invest $5bln and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations, with more than 25,000 employees each in New York City and Arlington. The new locations will join Seattle as the company’s three headquarters in North America. In addition, Amazon announced that it has selected Nashville for a new Center of Excellence for its Operations business, which is responsible for the company’s customer fulfilment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities. The Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville will create more than 5,000 jobs.