US: Walmart successfully recruits drivers amid shortage
The driver shortage within the trucking industry continues, despite many companies seeking out talent. While many are struggling to recruit and retain talent, Walmart hired 1,400 new drivers in 2018. Yahoo reports that the retailer added 696 new drivers in net fleet growth since August as well. The recruitment is happening while more aging drivers are retiring and high levels of turnover. However, Walmart responded to the shortage by hiring drivers by offering $1,500 referral bonuses, social media outreach for the younger generation and shortening the application time from 73 days to just 31 days. However, drivers still must have at least 30 months of experience and meet other stringent requirements. Yahoo reports that 1,000 drivers remain in the hiring pipeline, including 200 who will attending hiring events this month and 400 referrals the company is evaluating.
US: New Whole Foods tool assists online grocery shoppers with dietary restrictions
Whole Foods Market has launched a catalog on its website to help shoppers search for products based on dietary preference and easily obtain complete nutritional information and ingredient lists. Understanding that nearly one-third of its frequent patrons shop according to a specific dietary preference, the Austin, Texas-based natural grocer developed the tool to help shoppers research food options and verify product availability at their local store. Customers can now search for tens of thousands of Whole Foods' most popular products and filter by a number of dietary preferences via desktop computer or mobile device, including: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, Keto-friendly, Sugar-conscious, Dairy-free, Kosher, Organic, Whole Foods Diet-approved, Engine 2, Low sodium, Low fat.
Carrefour Brasil launches Scan & Go trial
Carrefour Group has launched a pilot of its Scan & Go service in Brazil, enabling customers to make purchases without the need to pass through the checkout counter. By using a mobile app, shoppers can read the bar code of products and create a virtual basket for payment with a credit card in the app itself. At the end of their shop, customers just need to present the voucher on the mobile-phone screen to pay for their items. The platform was trialled in December in a Carrefour Express store in São Paulo, and the new technology will be rolled out to further stores this month. Initially, the application can be downloaded via Google Play and purchases paid via credit card only. However, throughout the year, Scan & Go will accept other payment options and be made available on the Apple Store.
Biedronka plans extensive expansion in Poland
Portuguese retail group Jerónimo Martins plans to open around 100 to 150 Biedronka supermarkets, each year, in Poland in the coming years. The target was announced by Jerónimo Martins CEO Pedro Soares dos Santos in an interview with Business Insider Polska. The move will enable the company to strengthen its presence in the country, despite the nationwide ban on Sunday trading that was introduced in November 2017. According to Soares dos Santos, the decision has affected both consumers and retailers. However, he pointed out that Biedronka has managed the situation effectively to recover around 70% of the sales lost due to Sunday closures. The retailer also aims to add more fresh products and ready-made meals to Biedronka supermarkets.
UK: Sainsbury Archive goes digital to mark 150 years
The Sainsbury Archive is putting almost a hundred thousand never-before-seen items online for the first time, allowing the public to easily access materials which tell the story of the Sainsbury family and the changing face of retail from the mid-19th century to the present day. Sainsbury’s celebrates its 150th birthday this year and while it is now one of the UK’s largest retailers, it began as a family-owned shop on London’s Drury Lane selling just butter, milk and eggs. From working closely with the Government to develop the concept of rationing during World War Two, to opening one of the country’s first ‘self-service’ stores - where customers shopped for items themselves rather than over the counter - Sainsbury’s and the Sainsbury Family are woven into the social history of the nation. The Sainsbury Archive brings this to life through its varied and extensive collection.
France: E. Leclerc to launch 'pedestrian drive' outlet in Paris
E. Leclerc has announced plans to open a new 'pedestrian drive' outlet in Paris, near Place de Clichy in the city's 18th arrondissement. The new outlet, which goes by the name E. Leclerc Relais, is set to open on 9 January. It is located close to La Halle de Clichy, a new proximity concept opened by Carrefour in December, as well a Monoprix outlet. Carrefour currently operates a dozen 'pedestrian drive' outlets in the French capital. The 'pedestrian drive' concept, which Leclerc previously opened a store under in Lille in March 2017, differs from a traditional 'drive' store in that it is aimed at pedestrians rather than car-based shoppers - users simply place their orders online and pick the products up from the store on foot.
New Zealand: Warehouse retailer Costco still tipped to come to Auckland
The odds are still on Costco coming to New Zealand, but in Auckland at least, it may have its work cut out finding a suitable location. The US discounter, a members-only retailer where buyers save by buying in bulk, was tipped earlier this year to be scouting Auckland for a huge site with good motorway access. Costco's Australian managing director Patrick Noone told Stuff he was not ready to make any comments at this time but also did not deny that the company was considering a move across the Tasman. If indeed that's the case, Costco now must compete with giant Swedish homewares retailer Ikea, which announced last month that it was exploring the New Zealand market.
Croatia: Agrokor to be renamed by the end of January
Croatian food and retail consortium Agrokor has announced that it has renamed its subsidiary companies as part of an overall repositioning of the group. The parent company Agrokor d.d. will also receive a new name by the end of January. Konzum has been rebranded Konzum plus, Jamnica as Jamnica plus, Zvijezda as Zvijezda plus, and Ledo as Ledo plus. The old names have been retained in the names of the new companies to preserve their brand value in the market. The companies will start their operations once the implementation of the settlement plan between Agrokor's creditors is completed. The changes are part of the implementation process of the settlement plan, which is due to be completed by the end of Q1 2019.
Holland: Plus posts 3.8% increase in revenue in FY 2018
Dutch retailer Plus has reported revenue growth of 3.8%, and a turnover of €2.5bln in financial year 2018. Market growth, up to and including week 51, amounted to 3.3%, the company said. It is also the fifth consecutive year when its revenue growth exceeded market growth. Commenting on its performance, the general manager of Plus, Duncan Hoy, said: "It is a great achievement that Plus in this competitive industry has been able to beat the market for five years in a row.”
UK: Iceland reveals reverse vending machine trial success
Iceland has reported “significant consumer take-up” of its in-store trial of reverse vending machines, with more than 310,000 bottles recycled. The retailer revealed that since the launch of the trial in May a total of 311,500 bottles have been scanned into the reverse vending machines in stores across the UK. The trial incorporated England, Scotland and Wales, with machines installed in Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham and Musselburgh, as well as a machine for staff use at the retailer’s head office in Deeside.
UK: Co-op plans to open 100 new stores in 2019
The Co-op plans to open 100 new food stores during 2019 and revamp 200 more in a £200mln investment push, the company said. About one-third of the retailer’s new stores are planned for London and the south-east of England. The move follows the announcement last month (December) that the Co-op had agreed terms for a 661,000 sq ft distribution depot just off the A1 in Bedfordshire, designed to support continued growth in and around the M25. It is expected to open in 2022. Co-op opened a £6mln distribution centre last year (2018) at Inverness Airport Business Park and the depot is already servicing its stores in the region, as well as supporting future store expansion across the Highlands of Scotland.