Sobeys: Ocado partnership enhances capabilities

H-E-B: construction started on largest warehouse facility

Canada's Sobeys: building capabilities with Ocado partnership
At Sobeys, works has begun on its first Customer Fulfillment Centre (CFC) which is being developed in partnership with UK-based Ocado. The retailer expects to launch its grocery ecommerce solution into the Ontario market in the spring of 2020. This partnership, which utilises Ocado’s automated robotic technology is expected to help the retailer deliver a compelling, lower-cost proposition at scale, enable it to reach new catchments and offer an extended range of products. This will build on its established ecommerce business in Quebec.

US: H-E-B breaks ground on its largest warehouse facility
Construction on H-E-B’s San Antonio Regional Grocery Warehouse, a 1.6mln-square-foot facility, officially began, and its about to make San Antonio’s East Side a hot spot for the retailer’s supply chain division. “As San Antonio grows, we’ve been honored to grow with it, expanding our footprint of stores and digital retail offerings to serve more Texans”, said Carson Landsgard, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Logistics. “More than anything, the construction of our newest warehouse facility supports H-E-B’s future and ongoing commitment to be the best in-store and digital retailer in Texas.”

Slovenia: Mercator emerges from loss to post Jan-Sep profit of EUR 9mln
Mercator, Slovenia's largest retailer, posted a group net profit of EUR 9mln for the first nine months of 2018, which compares to a EUR 10.5mln loss in the same period last year, as sales rose by 1.6% to EUR 1.62bln. Profit before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by a quarter to EUR 87mln, with operating profit (EBIT) surging by 157% to EUR 36mln, the company said in an interim financial report. The improvement was driven by retail sales, which rose by 5.4% to EUR 1.2bln. "A new strategy, new store concept, store refurbishments and improved competitiveness of services are driving positive results in the core business," the company said. On its key Slovenian market, retail sales improved by 0.5%.

Court grants retail chain Israel Coop stay-of-proceedings
The Jerusalem District Court has granted Israeli supermarket chain Coop Israel (parent company the Israel Cooperative Association) with a stay of proceedings due to the cash flow crisis in which it finds itself. The retail chain's request to the court for a stay of proceedings spoke of: "The erosion in gross profit, which typifies the retail branch and food chains in particular." The supermarket chain added that: "The crisis had escalated since 2011 due to the rise in operational costs and intensification of competition in the market, without a fall in the price of commodities, and which has led to the closure of many companies large and small in Israel's retail market."

Mercadona to open first store in Portugal next July
Spanish retailer Mercadona is to open its first supermarket in Portugal in July of next year, the company has confirmed. Speaking to Dinheiro Vivo, the company’s head of European affairs, Elena Aldana, said that the 10 stores initially planned will be opened during the second half of 2019, in the districts of Braga, Porto and Aveiro. Aldana did not specify the location of the first outlet, but said that it will be at one of the four locations initially announced (Vila Nova de Gaia, Matosinhos, Maia and Gondomar).

Philippines: Robinsons Retail completes $343mln acquisition of Rustan Supercenters
Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc (Robinsons Retail), the second-largest multi-format retailer in the Philippines, has completed its P18bln ($343mln) acquisition of grocery chain operator Rustans Supercenters Inc (Rustans), eight months after the deal was first announced. Robinsons Retail is owned by the Gokongweis, the Philippines’ second richest family. It operates over 3,500 retail formats, including supermarkets, department stores, drugstores, international fashion and beauty specialty store, and specialty coffee shops. Rustans is 100% owned via a subsidiary by London-listed retailer Dairy Farm, which is majority-owned by Hong Kong-headquartered Jardine Matheson. It operates food retail brands Marketplace by Rustan’s, Rustan’s Supermarket, Shopwise Hypermarket, Shopwise Express, and Wellcome. The deal, which was first announced in March this year, will give Robinsons Retail 100% stake in Rustans. The stake was acquired from London-listed retailer Dairy Farm’s subsidiary Mulgrave Corporation BV (MCBV) through a share swap.

Carrefour Kenya partners with Jumia to sell groceries online
Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has partnered with Africa’s largest online shopping company Jumia to provide a secure and convenient way for Carrefour Kenya customers to shop for groceries and household goods online starting early January 2019. Through this partnership, more shoppers will now have access to a variety of Carrefour products, providing them with a shopping experience that is safe, convenient and stress-free from the comfort of their homes. Shoppers will enjoy the same great value prices and quality of products they enjoy at Carrefour stores. This comes with the added assurance of Jumia’s buyer protection policy, country-wide delivery, seven-day free returns and varied payment options including cash on delivery, mobile money and credit card.

Israel supermarket chain Shufersal Q3 profit edges up
Shufersal, Israel’s largest supermarket chain, said net profit rose slightly in the third quarter on record revenue as it integrated a newly purchased drugstore chain. The company posted net profit of 64mln shekels ($17mln) versus 63mln a year earlier. Revenue increased 9.4% to a record 3.3bln shekels as same store sales rose 3.6%.

Carrefour food blockchain in Spain
Earlier in 2018, Carrefour announced that it would start using blockchain technology as part of its 2022 Transformation plan. After rolling-out blockchain technology in France and Italy, it has now applied the technology in Spain in collaboration with IBM and Galicia-based Coren. Carrefour has launched the first traceability system for food using blockchain for one of its “Quality and Origin” private label products: country chicken free from antibiotics. Shoppers can trace the product from production through to distribution, by scanning a QR code on its packaging. The information available includes: the birth date of the chicken, the location of the farm, the feed used to rear the chicken or the date that it arrived on-shelf. Shoppers therefore have a complete view of the product which could boost consumer confidence.

Lidl Finland’s new health-focused online store
Lidl has launched an online store in Finland. The service is largely health-focused, offering ‘nutritional supplements, superfoods, nuts and vitamins’. The website can be shopped via, with Lidl's private label Sportyfeel nutritional supplement range accounting for around half of the 100 products sold on the website. The range launched in Finland several years ago, with these products having a growing presence in-store. They have also been popularised through sponsorship and social media activity. Sportyfeel sponsored Helsinki’s City Run half marathon in 2018 and its Instagram account has around 20k followers. According to the retailer: ‘half of all Sportyfeel products are manufactured and packaged in Finland. Other products come from Sweden and Germany, which produces equally high-quality goods’. Sportyfeel products are also stocked in other countries where Lidl is present, including in Sweden.

Seven Locker service launched by 7-Eleven South Korea
7-Eleven South Korea has launched an unmanned locker service called Seven Locker at two stores in Seoul. The initiative is part of the company’s effort to diversify operations and generate more profits for its convenience stores. The Seven Locker trial operations started at two stores in Seoul’s Hongdae and Jongno districts, with another eight on track to open by year’s end to better gauge customer response and growth potential. The plan calls for 100 lockers to be placed at 7-Eleven stores across the country in the first half of next year, with the service to be extended to all key stores going forward.

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