Smart & Final: lift in Q3

Lidl to buy up 27 Best Market stores

Strong U.S. economy boosts Walmart's third-quarter sales
Walmart Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly U.S. comparable sales and raised its full year outlook as a strong economy boosted customer store visits and e-commerce purchases grew as it sold more groceries online. The retailer’s profits, however, continued to be under pressure. Margins were impacted as Walmart absorbed higher transportation costs and invested heavily in its online business. “Fresh (food) continues to do very well but there is strength across the board from a category standpoint”, Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told Reuters in an interview. Grocery sales make up 56% of Walmart’s revenue, and at its investor day last month Walmart’s Chief Executive Doug McMillon emphasized Walmart’s advantage in the food category, an area that rival Inc is trying to crack, particularly following its acquisition last year of organic grocer Whole Foods. McMillon said Walmart can offer fresh food within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population.

US: Bankrupt Sears wins court approval for plans to sell stores
Sears Holdings Corp won U.S. bankruptcy court approval to move forward with plans to stay in business and sell itself, even as it continues to evaluate offers to liquidate its business. The 125-year-old retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, faces opposition to its plan to sell from some creditors, who argued in court papers that Sears would be squandering hundreds of millions of dollars by pursuing a sale instead of winding down its business.

Ahold Delhaize USA enters digital media arena
Eyeing a new revenue source, Ahold Delhaize USA plans to launch a digital media service through its Peapod Digital Labs unit. The food retailer said that the service, called Peapod Digital Labs Media Partnerships, will help consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers target, optimize and measure digital media campaigns for their brands. Powered by Quotient Technology, the media service will span all customer contact points and link customers’ online and offline shopping experiences. Peapod Digital Labs’ media platform is slated to go live in the coming months, and all Ahold Delhaize USA grocery retail brands will participate, including supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion and Hannaford and online grocer Peapod.

US: Smart & Final upbeat on foodservice, online sales growth
Smart & Final Stores Inc. got a lift in the third quarter from rising sales at its foodservice banner, helping the warehouse-style food retailer beat financial analysts’ earnings projection. For the 16-week quarter ended October 7, Smart & Final reported revenue of about $1.50bln, up 2.8% from $1.45bln a year earlier. The Commerce, California-based company said the increase stemmed from an 0.6% uptick in same-store sales and business at new stores. Comparable-store results reflect a 1.9% gain in average transaction size that was partially offset by a 1.3% decrease in transaction count, according to Smart & Final, which added that the product pricing deflation rate year over year was -0.7%. At Smart & Final and Smart & Final Extra! stores, third-quarter sales totaled $1.14bln, a 2.6% gain from nearly $1.12bln a year ago. Comp-store sales inched up 0.2%. The Smart Foodservice Warehouse unit, meanwhile, saw sales climb 3.3% to $353.6mln from $342.1mln in the 2017 quarter, with same-store sales edging up 2%.

US: Lidl to acquire 27 Best Market stores
Lidl recently announced an agreement to buy up 27 of Best Markets’ stores in New York and New Jersey. This deal will expand the retailer’s U.S. presence and also marks its entrance into a new market in Long Island. The terms of the acquisition agreement have not yet been disclosed, but it is expected to close over the coming months. "Best Market has played an enormously positive role in the area, and we look forward to working closely with Best Market employees to build on that success," said Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl US. "We are excited to expand into many great communities on Long Island and across the New York City area and introduce more customers to our simple and efficient approach to grocery shopping, which will mean high quality and huge savings for more shoppers."

Ara to expand in Columbia
Ara, a discount banner based in Columbia will invest between €500mln to €600mln to open more stores in the country over the next two years, Portafolio reports. Ara is owned by Portugal-based group Jerónimo Martins. In addition to other sources, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank, will help to fund Ara’s expansion, with €93mln.

Portugal: Sonae MC sees turnover up 7.0% in first nine months of year
Sonae MC, the division of Portuguese conglomerate Sonae, which operates the Continente chain, saw its turnover rise by 7.0% in the first nine months of the year, the company has announced. Turnover at the division stood at €3.01bln, which was thanks to a 2.5% increase in like-for-like terms, as well as continued store openings, with eight Continente Bom Dia and one Continente Modelo store opening in the period. EBITDA margin for the period was up 5.2% at Sonae MC.

Switzerland: Migros launches grocery delivery service Miacar
Migros, the largest supermarket chain of Switzerland, is bringing back the famous Migros wagons, but with a digital twist. In the Bern region, the company is testing Miacar, a new delivery service that resembles the Dutch online grocery startup Picnic that’s currently shaking up the German market. Migros, now the biggest supermarket chain of Switzerland, once started with five sales cars that offered groceries at 178 stops in Zurich. Soon, founder Gottlieb Duttweiler opened physical stores, but the Migros vans stayed until 2007.

UK: Ocado sees deal opportunities in Europe, Asia, Australia
Ocado, the online supermarket providing technology to U.S retailer Kroger, sees opportunities to strike more deals with established grocers in Europe, Asia and South America, and could move into other categories in retail and beyond. Chief Financial officer Duncan Tatton-Brown said the British company was focusing on new territories in Europe as well as markets such as Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Slovenia: Tuš introduces ‘ugly’ vegetables
In a move to tackle food wastage, Slovenian retailer Tuš has announced the launch of a new brand - Naravno Drugačni - that offers vegetables of irregular shapes and sizes. The vegetables are offered at lower prices, and the idea behind the move is to make consumers aware of the fact that these vegetables are as tasty and nutritious as regular looking vegetables, and should not be discarded. According to marketing director, Andraž Tuš, more than one-third of fruit and vegetables are discarded in Slovenia, because of their appearance.

France: Monoprix rolls out monop’easy service
Casino-owned Monoprix has launched a smartphone scan and pay service called ‘monop’easy’. The service, developed by start-up Snapp, has been introduced in 500 Monoprix and Monop stores. Monoprix introduced the service initially in Paris in October 2017 before rolling it out nationally from the beginning of November. Monop'easy allows shoppers to scan and purchase goods from their smartphones via the ‘Monoprix et Moi’ app. Shoppers must link their bank details with the app to pay and avoid queuing. Régis Schultz, Monoprix’s president, commented: “With this service, Monoprix continues to offer the best experience to its customers in stores…”

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