France: retail confidence at lowest level since January 2015
French business confidence plunged to a more than two-year low in December after violent anti-government protests as the economy closes the year on a rough note, official data showed. The confidence slump implies the economy has slowed since growth peaked in 2018 in the third quarter at 0.3%, which data showed was weaker than previously thought. The Insee statistics agency said its business confidence index fell to 102 points in December from 105 November - the lowest level since November 2016. Confidence in the retail sector suffered particularly badly after Paris saw the worst unrest in decades from "yellow vest" demonstrators during crucial, pre-holiday shopping days in December. The index for the retail sector fell to 100 from 107, its lowest since January 2015.
Latvia: Maxima announces opening of two new stores
Maxima Latvia has announced the opening of two new stores in the centre of Riga, at Tallinas Street and Brīvības Street. The openings, which follow an investment of €500,000 mean that Maxima has now opened a total of four stores in December, a monthly record for 2018. "... we are pleased that 160 Maxima stores throughout Latvia are now open to customers thanks to an intensive investment plan involving the renovation of existing stores and the opening of new ones", said Maxima Latvija board member Kristīne Āboltiņa.
Franprix enters the UAE
France-based trade publication LSA has reported that Casino-owned Franprix has opened its first store in the UAE, in Dubai. The 440 sq. m store is based on Franprix’s Mandarine concept. There are 6,500 SKUs, with products sold in bulk, a juice machine and roasting pan. Part of the store is adapted to suit the needs and expectations of local customers. Franprix worked with local partner Meraas to roll out the store, which is open every day until midnight.
Spain: Dia close to sealing 200 mln euro funding deal
Struggling Spanish food retailer Dia expects to reach a deal soon to refinance its banking debt, the company said, making its shares jump by over 10%. The deal, to be sealed by the end of May, should provide the low-cost supermarket chain with much-needed new liquidity worth about 200mln euros ($229mln), it said in a statement. The information comes two weeks after Dia entered into a standby underwriting commitment with Morgan Stanley under which the bank would buy troubled retailer’s shares for an amount of at least 600mln euros once shareholders approve a planned capital increase.
Holland: retailer Coop sees turnover up 18% in 2018
Dutch retailer Coop has posted an 18% increase in turnover in full-year 2018, reporting sales of €1.4bln for the period. This is €200mln higher than the previous year, and includes the combined turnover of both its Coop store network and the 51 EMTÉ stores acquired since the beginning of July 2018. As of the end of 2018, 19 EMTÉ stores have been converted to Coop branding. Overall, Coop operates a total of 290 stores as of the close of 2018, a net increase of 27 on the previous year. ‘The organic growth of Coop was also above market growth,’ Coop said in a statement.
Germany: retailer Kaufland drops Unilever products over price rises
The German food retailer Kaufland has said that it is dropping Unilever products from its shelves to protest against price increases. Kaufland, which operates 660 stores in Germany, said that it had tried to reach a solution since May with Unilever but its offers were rejected. It affects products including Knorr, Lipton and Ben & Jerry's. Unilever, citing confidential customer relationships, declined to comment.
UK: Spar partner teams up with forecourt operator
Spar UK partner A F Blakemore has announced a partnership with an independent forecourt operator, Refuel & Go, that has seen eight forecourt sites relaunched with a Spar outlet. Each of the outlets has been reformatted with Spar merchandising and category management solutions, and the stores’ sales are up 10% on average since the refits, the retailer said. A range of Spar own-brand products have also gone on sale in the stores. The eight forecourt sites are located in Bethnal Green, Croydon and Swiss Cottage in London; Chiddingfold in Surrey; Braintree, Black Notly and Hornchurch in Essex; and Windsor in Berkshire.
Italy: Carrefour rolls out new hypermarket format
Carrefour Italia has launched a new hypermarket format that seeks to simplify the shopping experience and focuses on quality, organic and food-to-go. The remodeling is part of the retailer’s wider strategy to create a new generation of hypermarkets divided into different clusters. Extending over 5,000 square metres, the hypermarket in Portogruaro now offers 20,000 SKUs of which 4,000 are available at reduced prices, as well as a range of new services. The central focus of the store is the fresh area, with over 2,400 SKUs. In the fruit and vegetable department there has been additional space allocated for organic products, including products sourced from more than 100 local suppliers.
US: Costco joins How2Recycle label program
Consumers will soon see the How2Recycle label on some Costco Wholesale Kirkland Signature brand products in stores across the U.S. The retail giant will use the label to make recycling different types of packaging easier. The standardized label categorizes packaging into a Widely Recycled category, a Check Locally category, a Store Drop-Off category, and a Not Yet Recycled category. “Costco’s private-label brand encompasses a diverse portfolio of product categories. By joining How2Recycle, Costco is empowering its members to properly prepare a wide array of packaging types and materials for recycling. Costco is well poised to help recover large quantities of material by featuring consistent, accurate recycling messaging on package”, said Caroline Cox, How2Recycle project associate.
Report: Amazon is planning a Whole Foods expansion to benefit Prime Now
Amazon is planning a Whole Foods expansion in the U.S., according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The goal is to put more customers within the range of Amazon’s two-hour Prime Now delivery service, including those in suburban areas outside cities, as well as those in regions where the grocer has yet to establish a presence. Currently, Amazon’s Prime Now delivery service offers two-hour delivery in more than 60 U.S. cities, and 30-minute-plus grocery pickup in nearly 30 cities. Amazon is planning to expand those services to almost all its 475 Whole Foods stores, the report said, citing sources.