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Amazon: the most valuable public company in the world

Kroger and Microsoft collaborating to develop a connected store pilot

US retail employment rises by 37,600 in December: NRF
The US-based National Retail Federation has said that retail employment grew by 37,600 unadjusted year-on-year in December, in what was a bumper holiday shopping period in the States. Some 4,000 jobs were created at food and beverage stores, the NRF said, with 15,000 jobs created at general merchandise stores, which include department stores and warehouse clubs. Overall, US businesses added 312,000 jobs overall in December, according to the Labor Department.

US: Kroger and Microsoft partner on connected store pilot
Kroger and Microsoft are collaborating to develop a connected store pilot, optimising Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Powered by Microsoft Azure and connected IoT sensors, Kroger’s technology team has developed a smart technology system. This is being used to transform two pilot stores in Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Washington. The stores will optimise Microsoft’s ‘Retail-as-a-Service’ (Rass) capabilities to quickly add innovations and create new customer experiences. Commenting on the collaboration, Kroger's chairman and CEO, Rodney McMullen, stated: "Kroger is building a seamless ecosystem driven by data and technology to provide our customers with personalised food inspiration. We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft to redefine grocery retail.”

Amazon is the most valuable public company in the world after passing Microsoft
Amazon is now the largest company by market value, overtaking Microsoft’s hold on the title. Amazon’s ended trading Monday with a market value of about $797bln, compared with Microsoft’s $783bln. Apple, which had been part of a close three-way race for the seat, is now down to about $702bln in market value after plunging last week on the news of its weak iPhone sales. Google parent company Alphabet has surpassed Apple with a market value of about $748bln.

France: Leclerc reduces the prices of 4,600 products
France-based trade publication LSA has reported that Leclerc has decided to lower the prices of 4,600 products within its Marque Repère range. It will maintain the price decreases throughout 2019, giving its private label products a competitive advantage over major brands. The range is already 30% cheaper than national brands and 75% of its products are manufactured in France. Product categories within the range include household, hygiene and beauty. However, Leclerc will not lower the prices of fresh and fish products to support producers. The measure took effect on 2 January 2019 and will continue to be implemented throughout the year. The reductions will be applied in all Leclerc stores, Drives and on its home delivery site ‘’.

Aldi UK reports record Christmas week amid rising premium sales
Aldi sold nearly £1bln of goods in the UK during December thanks to rising demand for its premium ranges, the discounter said. The German supermarket giant’s British arm, the country’s fifth-largest grocery chain, said the week beginning 17 December was the busiest in its history, with sales up 10% on last year. Aldi said its sales performance reflected a surge in demand for its premium ranges - Specially Selected and Exquisite. “We begin the new year with great momentum as the UK’s fastest-growing supermarket and on the back of record Christmas sales”, said the chief executive, Giles Hurley. Aldi opened 65 new stores during 2018, reaching a total of 827, as it aims for a goal of 1,200 shops in the UK by the end of 2025.

Switzerland: Coop achieves record sales in 2018
Coop Switzerland has announced its 2018 revenues surpassed the CHF30bln (€26.7bln) mark for the first time. Across its businesses, net turnover rose by 5% in FY2018. The retailer will officially announce its results on 19 February 2019. In the retail business, net income increased by 2% to reach CHF17.8bln (€15.8bln). Coop’s supermarkets saw their traffic increase by 3.1%, and Coop’s specialised formats saw a 3.8% rise in net income. Coop’s Vitality pharmacies showed the strongest growth from FY2017, with 8.5%. In the wholesale and production business net income increased by 9% to reach CHF14.2bln (€12.6bln). The Transgourmet Group generates the most income for Coop’s wholesale and production sector. In 2018 it consolidated its second-place market position in Europe’s self-service and wholesaling sector.

Romania’s retail sales rose 7.2% y/y in November, the highest pace in 5 months
The retail sales, a key index of consumer market, rose by 7.2% year-on-year in November 2018 in Romania, the highest pace since June, due mainly to better non-food sales, according to a National Institute of Statistics (INS) report. In the first 11 months of last year, the retail trade growth rate accelerated to 5.6%, from 5.4% in January-October 2018. Retail trade was sustained in November by non-food products which rose by 9.6% year-on-year, and by sales of fuels (+6.7%). Sales of food, beverages and tobacco increased by 4.6% year-on-year in November.

India: More trouble for Amazon after CCI's notice to Samara Capital
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has sought details from Samara Capital on the role of Amazon and how the proposed deal by them to acquire the More chain of supermarkets from Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL) is in line with the government’s revised foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in ecommerce issued on December 26, two senior industry executives said. The executives said CCI’s queries to Samara Capital-owned Witzig Advisory Services is specific to whether Amazon will be involved in day-to-day operations of More, its representation on the board, whether More will be integrated into the Amazon India marketplace and to justify how the deal structure is going to be compliant with the revised FDI norms issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). Witzig is yet to file its responses to CCI, the executives said.

Number of new convenience stores in South Korea drops in 2018
The number of new convenience stores in South Korea moved down in 2018 from a year earlier, industry data showed, due mainly to an increase in labor costs and the market’s saturation. According to industry data, new CU branches, operated by BGF Retail Co., posted a net increase of 666 last year, falling sharply from the on-year rise of 1,646 posted in 2017. The figure is based on the number of new shops minus those shut down permanently. GS25, the country’s No. 2 convenience store chain, recorded an increase of 678 branches last year, dropping sharply from a rise of 1,701 in 2017.

Marko Põder named CEO and board chairman of Maxima in Estonia
Lithuanian retail group Maxima has announced the appointment of Marko Põder as its new CEO and chairman of the board in its Estonian business. Põder had been functioning as the interim CEO of the retail group in Estonia since September of 2018. Põder described his new role as an "interesting professional challenge" and added: "My priority is to ensure the company’s sustainable growth, focusing on the quality of customer service and the internal culture of the organisation."

Germany: Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd campaign to promote conscious nutrition
German discounters Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd have announced the launch of the 'Simply Better Living' campaign to promote healthy and nutritious food options. "To eat consciously and to live a healthy life does not have to be complicated and expensive", said Dr. Julia Adou, the head of corporate responsibility at Aldi Süd. "With our campaign, we want to raise the consumer's awareness of how easy a balanced and varied diet can be integrated into everyday life." As a part of the campaign, the discounters aim to cut around 6,000 tonnes of salt and sugar in almost 860 private-label SKUs.

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