Russia: Sberbank sees interest from potential buyers of its Agrokor stake: Sberbank CEO aide
Russia’s Sberbank, a key stakeholder in Croatian food producer and retailer Agrokor, has started to receive proposals to sell its share in the firm which is emerging from a debt crisis, an aide to Sberbank’s CEO said. Agrokor, the largest firm in the Balkans with over 50,000 staff, was put under state-run administration last year, crippled by debts built up during an ambitious expansion drive.
Mega Image opens first stores in eastern Romania cities
The first cities in Romania’s eastern region of Moldova where the Dutch-Belgian retailer Mega Image will expand are Iasi and Bacau. Buzau will follow, according to Economica.net. The retailer’s expansion continues after it entered the markets of Constanta and Timisoara this year and Cluj-Napoca in 2017. The retailer has already started hiring personnel for the planned supermarkets in Iasi, Bacau and Buzau.
Italy: Esselunga opens 'store of the future' in Milan
Italian supermarket chain Esselunga has opened a state-of-the-art store in Milan, which implements a number of sustainability initiatives and technological innovations. The new outlet, located in Viale Famagosta, has implemented a network of 5,000 digital sensors to monitor energy consumption, and reduce CO2 emissions. It also aims to cut down energy consumption by around 20% when compared with a traditional store. The supermarket is spread across a commercial area of 2,500 square meters, on two floors, with class A energy certification.
Romania: Carrefour opens new hypermarkets in Satu Mare and Baia Mare
Carrefour Romania opened on December 5 and 6 two new hypermarkets with individual sales areas of over 7,500 sqm in Satu Mare and Baia Mare. The two new hypermarkets will have an offer of 55,000 products, of which 3,000 are own-brand products. They will be served by around 250 employees and have about 1,000 free parking spaces.
Austria: Retailers file antitrust complaint against Amazon
Austrian retailers have filed a complaint against Amazon with their national competition authority over the U.S. e-commerce giant’s dual role as a retailer and a marketplace. The European Commission and Germany’s antitrust authority are also looking into Amazon’s role in the market. “We have received a complaint. We are examining it”, a spokeswoman for Austria’s Federal Competition Authority (BWB) said, confirming a statement by the Austrian Retail Association.
Germany: REWE Group signs new syndicated loan agreement of €2bln
Germany’s REWE Group has announced that it has signed a loan agreement of €2bln with a consortium of 18 national and international banks, with a term of five years and two renewal options of one year each. The loan agreement also includes an increase in the lending volume of up to €500mln. This self-arranged financing replaces the previous €1.5bln line of credit, which will expire in September of 2020.
UK: Iceland launch world’s first instore ice rink
To bring some fun to the Christmas food shop, supermarket chain Iceland has trialled a new concept - Shopping on Ice. A world first, supermarket aisles in their Stratford branch were transformed to ice. A team of 12 ice rink experts worked through the night, refitting the entire store with 250 square meters of synthetic ice to complete the spectacular transformation. The brand-new experience aimed to bring some fun to what is often seen as just another festive chore - the Christmas food shop. The rink was installed in response to new research, commissioned by Iceland, which found that four in five parents (83%) wish they had more time to enjoy the run up to the big day.
Italy: Crai Secom and D.IT team up to form Gruppo Levante
Italian retailers Crai Secom and D.IT - Distribuzione Italiana have teamed up to launch a new retail distribution group in Italy. The two groups will hold equal shares in the business, the president of Crai Secom, Pietro Boccalatte announced, while the combined entity will have a market share of 5%. Crai Secom is present in 19 regions and 85 provinces, and D.IT in 17 regions and 80 provinces. Announcing the agreement, the two businesses said that they will 'make use of the resources, experience and professionalism of both companies to develop projects of common interest', such as building brand relationships and private label product development.
US: Farmstead raises $2.2mln to fuel nationwide expansion
Digital micro-grocer Farmstead has raised an additional $2.2mln venture round to help accelerate its nationwide expansion. The funding comes from ARTIS Ventures, Resolute Ventures, Y Combinator, Red Dog Capital and other investors, bringing the company’s total raised funds to $7.5mln. Founded in 2016, Farmstead sources and delivers fresh, local food from farm to fridge within 60 minutes, using its AI-powered predictive analytics models to accurately predict demand and supply accordingly to help minimize food waste. The company currently serves the Bay Area, where its customer base has been growing 20%-30% month over month with strong repeat business, according to a statement.
US: Ingles reports traffic & ticket increases for Q4
Ingles Markets reported an uptick in both customer count and average basket size during its fiscal fourth quarter. The Asheville, North Carolina, retailer said sales for the 13-week period, which ended September 29, totaled $1.06bln vs. sales of $1.09bln during the 14-week fourth quarter in fiscal 2017. Adjusted for the extra week in the year-ago period, comp sales, excluding gasoline, improved by 2.3%. Gross margin as a percent of sales also increased slightly to 24.2% of sales versus 24% in last year’s fourth quarter. “Our associates’ hard work and dedication contributed to our outstanding sales. We will continue to invest in our business for sustainable long-term growth”, Robert P. Ingle II, Ingles’ chairman, said in a release.
US: UNFI posts mixed Q1 results while working to integrate Supervalu
Weeks after completing its acquisition of wholesaler-grocer Supervalu, an undaunted United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) reported mixed fiscal 2019 first-quarter results, even as it embarked on a challenging integration process. UNFI’s results, which included six days of Supervalu’s operating results and the full impact on the balance sheet, included a net sales increase of 16.7%, or about $411mln, to $2.87bln for for its first quarter of fiscal 2019 ended October 27. Excluding about $224mln net sales from Supervalu, net sales grew 7.6% compared with the year-ago period.
Amazon targets airports for checkout-free store expansion
Amazon.com Inc is looking at bringing its futuristic checkout-free store format to airports in an effort to win business from hungry, time-pressed travelers, according to public records and a person familiar with the strategy. The move underscores how a company that started as an online bookseller is making forays into brick-and-mortar retail to capture a greater share of shoppers’ spending. For months, the world’s largest online retailer has been expanding Amazon Go, where customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter, and then cameras identify what they take from the shelves. When shoppers are finished, they simply leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file.
Canada: Empire closes acquisition of Farm Boy chain
Empire Company Ltd., the parent of Sobeys Inc., has finalized its $800mln (Canadian) deal to buy fellow Canadian grocer Farm Boy. Ottawa-based Farm Boy operates 26 stores in southeastern Ontario. The retailer specializes in local fresh produce and meat, offers a wide range of ready-to-eat food prepared in-store and features a strong private label program. Empire said that Farm Boy, acquired from Berkshire Partners and the chain’s management shareholders, will be run as a separate company. Farm Boy's co-CEOs and members of its senior management team have reinvested for a 12% interest of the continuing business.