Albertsons will close unprofitable Texas stores in 2019

Coborn's to buy Hornbacher's supermarkets from UNFI/Supervalu

US: Wegmans breaks ground on first-ever Washington DC store
After first revealing plans to enter Washington, DC, May of last year, Wegmans officially broke ground December 1, making headway on its first-ever store in the market. The retailer is setting up shop at former Fannie Mae headquarters, where current plans are underway to turn the site into a mixed-use development, anchored by the 86,000-square-foot Wegmans. The overall project is valued at $640mln. “We’ve received numerous requests for a store in the District ever since we expanded into northern Virginia and Maryland more than a decade ago,” said Ralph Uttaro, Wegmans' SVP of Real Estate. “We’re eager to serve this vibrant community with the best ingredients, restaurant-quality prepared foods, consistent low prices, and incredible customer service.”

US: Sudden departure of Sprouts CEO Amin Maredia stuns industry
Amin Maredia, who helped to grow Sprouts Farmers Market into a powerhouse foe of conventional supermarkets, is resigning as its CEO effective December 30 to take on another opportunity. Jim Nielsen, Sprouts’ president and COO, and Brad Lukow, CFO, will take on co-CEO duties as the grocery chain seeks a successor, according to the Phoenix-based retailer. The surprise departure of Maredia -who has been Sprouts’ CEO since 2015 when he succeeded Doug Sanders, and previously was its CFO from August 2011 to August 2015 - sent the retailer's stock tumbling by nearly 14% in early trading.

US: Supervalu ceasing operations at 2 Colorado DCs
Supervalu’s distribution arm, Advantage Logistics USA West, is ceasing operations at two distribution centers in Colorado. The warehouses, in Aurora and Fountain, will close in mid-February, according to local news reports. Nearly 750 workers will be affected, but Denver-based Windigo Logistics plans to assume operation of the facilities as well as hire as many of the current workers who want to make the switch.

US: Albertsons to close unprofitable Texas stores in 2019
Albertsons Cos. is restructuring its Southern Division, plans for which include the closure of unprofitable stores. The retailer will shutter two Dallas-area locations in January, according to local news reports. The closures include one Tom Thumb store, located at 3535 Belt Line Road in Irving, Texas, which the company plans to sell, as well as one Albertsons store, located at 4126 S. Carrier Parkway in Grand Prairie, Texas. The Boise-based company reportedly informed store employees of the closures just days before the December 1 closings of four additional Texas stores, including Albertsons at 10800 N. Beach St. in Fort Worth; Albertsons at 1300 Beltline Road in DeSoto; Tom Thumb at 2600 Flower Mound Road in Flower Mound; and Tom Thumb at 820 South MacArthur Blvd. in Coppell.

US: Coborn's to buy Hornbacher's supermarkets from UNFI/Supervalu
United Natural Foods Inc., which upon acquiring Supervalu earlier this year made a point of its intentions to dispose of its retail assets, has found a buyer for Hornbacher’s, the Fargo, North Dakota-based regional chain. The Providence, Rhode Island-based distributor said St. Cloud, Minnesota-based Coborn’s Inc. would buy seven of Hornbacher’s eight stores, along with a store in development in West Fargo, North Dakota, for an undisclosed sum. Coborn’s, a longtime distribution customer of Supervalu with 53 stores in the upper Midwest, is expected to retain the Hornbacher’s name on the acquired units and intends to enter into a long-term agreement with Supervalu to continue supplying them, preserving the distributor’s wholesale volume.

Germany: Target and Metro AG partner on startups
Target is partnering with Germany’s Metro AG to launch a new startup accelerator programme, the METRO Target Retail Accelerator. Target established its accelerator programme for startups three years ago in conjunction with Techstars. It aims to identify startups which can help the business further differentiate its offer, enhance the customer experience and develop innovative technologies. Target has run tests or pilots with more than half of the 30 startups which have participated in its programs. The 14-week programme with Metro will start next May, with each startup receiving up to a $120,000 initial investment. Participating companies will also be mentored by business leaders from both retail organisations, with ten startups selected to spend time at each company’s headquarters. They will learn more about bringing business concepts to market, how to fund raise and develop their businesses. The accelerator will conclude with a Demo Day in August in Minneapolis, when the startups will pitch their businesses to the retailers, Techstars’ leadership and potential investors.

Lithuania: Maxima Grupė establishes International Sourcing arm
Lithuania-based Maxima Grupė has established a new procurement arm, Maxima International Sourcing, which will concentrate centralised purchasing competencies at the group. The business will provide agency services to the group’s operations in the Baltics, Poland and Bulgaria, as well as develop private label brands and engage in wholesale activities. Maxima Grupė said that the business will be established at the start of next year. Maxima International Sourcing will be split off from Franmax, which currently provides franchise and agency services for the group’s companies.

European Central Bank takes on PayPal with TIPS instant payment system
The European Central Bank launched a new system aimed at letting banks settle payments instantly across Europe, helping them to compete with PayPal and other global tech giants. Developed in just over a year, the ECB's TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) system will let people and companies in Europe transfer euros to each other within seconds and regardless of the opening hours of their local bank. US firms PayPal, Google, Facebook and Amazon, and China's Alibaba and Tencent currently dominate such services in Europe.

UK: McColl's updates on Q4 and full-year trading
Major UK convenience retailer, McColl's has announced its trading performance for the final quarter of its financial year (to 25 November), posting total revenue down 0.5% over the 13 weeks. However, boosted by the acquisition of almost 300 Co-op stores in 2017, growth for the full year stands at 8.3%. Though flat at 0.0%, like-for-like sales in Q4 were an improvement on Q3, when they were down 0.9%. This relative recovery was supported by a notable performance in the tobacco category above all; though, owing to low margins, this has had a restraining impact on profitability. Full-year like-for-like performance, nevertheless, remained negative, down 1.4%.

Australia: Metcash books modest earnings bump in challenging conditions
Metcash Limited has reported $95.8mln in statutory profit after tax in the first half of FY19, a 3% increase on the prior corresponding period. The retailer, which owns the IGA supermarket chain, lifted revenue 2.2% to $6.2bln for the period and paid an interim dividend of 6.5 cents per share, fully franked. Metcash group chief executive Jeff Adams said the results were pleasing in the facing of a challenging market.

France: Carrefour trials cargo bikes
From 1 December 2018, in Marseille, Carrefour tests home delivery using an electric cargo bike. Start-up Agilenville will provide the bikes, produced by Kleuster, which are known as Freegones. The bikes can transport up to 300kg of goods and can travel 15km per hour. They also feature warming and cooling boxes and are equipped with LED lights. The Freegones will run on public roads and bike paths.

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