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Tesco: robot grocery delivery in Milton Keynes

Sainsbury’s: like-for-like sales down 1.1% in Q3

Crai outperforms Italian retail market in 2018: Mediobanca
Italian retailer Crai outperformed its competitors in terms of growth last year, seeing sales rise 14.2% year-on-year, according to a Mediobanca report on the Italian grocery retail sector. Discounter chain Eurospin posted growth of 11.1%, followed by Gruppo VéGé (+9.8%), discounter Lillo-MD (+8.8%), Lidl (+8.5%), Agorà (+7.5%), Despar (+6.9%) and Conad (+5.3%). The aggregate turnover of the 20 largest food retailers in Italy, accounting for 97% of the market, reached €83bln (+4.4%), the best performance since 2014. Overall, Coop confirmed its position as the market leader with a turnover of €14.8bln (+3.4%), although second-placed Conad achieved a higher growth rate (+5.3%), reaching €13bln in sales.

The Netherlands: retailer Vomar sees revenue up 7.3% in 2018
Dutch retailer Vomar Voordeelmarkt has posted organic revenue growth of 7.3% in the Dutch market in full-year 2018. The retailer said that its growth rate is more than twice that of the market average, which Nielsen calculates at 3.4%, making Vomar the fastest-growing supermarket in the Netherlands for the second year in a row. Its 2018 performance follows on from a turnover increase of 6.4% the previous year.

UK: Tesco delivers groceries by robot in Milton Keynes
Tesco customers in Milton Keynes can now have their groceries delivered by robot. The service from robotics company Starship Technologies, is now available via a Tesco Extra in the Kingston Centre. Tesco customers can use Starship’s smartphone app to order groceries, which can then be delivered in as little as 15 minutes within a two-mile radius of the store. More than 1,000 Tesco products are listed, and customers pay the standard shelf prices plus £1 for delivery. This follows Tesco’s previous trial in London with Starship, in which it tested robot delivery, as part of a wider ‘Tesco Now’ one-hour delivery trial. The order is picked in-store by an employee from Starship who puts the items into the robot, which then sets off on its unaccompanied journey to the customer. The customer can see where the robot is using the app. Upon reaching its destination, the customer uses the app to confirm arrival and unlock the lid to the compartment containing the shopping. A new ordering feature called ‘Snap’ has been added to the app by Starship, enabling customers to add their favourites to a basket with one tap.

Belgium: Colruyt's OKay, OKay Compact and Bio-Planet test smart lockers
Colruyt is trialling smart lockers, called Bringme Boxes until May 2019 in six Colruyt stores. These include: OKay in Herent, Vossem, and Welle; OKay Compact in Ixelles and Boudewijnstraat, Antwerp; and Bio-Planet in Leuven. The Bringme Boxes are intelligent lockers which can be used to collect or return online orders from a variety of sources. They have a large touchscreen attached, while customers will receive a notification via the corresponding app once their order has been delivered. Jan Van Holsbeke, Okay’s sales manager, said: “With these boxes we can offer our customers an extra service, convenience and time savings. It also generates extra traffic to the stores in question”.

Russian discounter to tackle Aldi and Lidl on home soil
Hard discounters Aldi and Lidl are being challenged in Germany: a new competitor claims to be 20% cheaper: Russian price fighter Torgservis will open its first store in Leipzig on 29 January. The arrival of the new competitor has been in the air for a while, but is now becoming a reality. Through its subsidiary TS Markt, Torgservis plans to open at least a hundred stores in the east of Germany. The retailer will be operating under the brand name Mere, which it is already using in Romania. The first outlet will be about 1000 sqm in size and located in a building previously used by Aldi, various German media sources say. The store will employ ten people. 70 % of the product range will be low-cost food products as well as items for pets, household products and apparel. In Russia, Torgservis successfully runs 800 discounts stores under the labels Svetofor and Mayak. The stores are positioned lower than Aldi and Lidl, and sell a range of 1500 to 2000 products in a no-frills environment, displayed on pallets and including overstocked items. Prices are about 20% lower than usual at other discounters. Torgservis is also active in Romania, Kazachstan, Azerbaijan and China. Additional stores are planned in Poland.

UK: Sainsbury’s sees like-for-like sales down 1.1% in third quarter
UK retailer Sainsbury’s has posted a 1.1% decline in like-for-like sales in the third quarter of its financial year, a period that takes in Christmas 2018. Total retail sales at the group were down 0.4%, however grocery sales were up 0.4% and online and convenience were up 6.0% and 3.0% respectively. The group’s performance was dragged down by general merchandise sales, which fell 2.3%, and clothing sales, which were down 0.2%.

US: UNFI reveals new branding
Characterizing its merger with Supervalu as an opportunity to “transform the world of food,” United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has unveiled a new mission, a new logo and a new corporate slogan. The logo and new slogan: "Better Food. Better Future," arrived on social media channels this week ahead of an investor conference scheduled for next week, during which UNFI officials have said they would further detail a new strategic plan for the integrating companies. Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI acquired Supervalu, its larger rival, this summer in a $2.9bln deal combining the largest U.S. natural/organic and conventional retail food distributors. The merger bets that superior scale and selection will win business from both suppliers and retail customers over the long run.

US: Kroger plans $1.2bln debt offering
U.S. supermarket chain Kroger Co said it plans to raise $1.2bln through a debt offering, according to a U.S. regulatory filing. The company said it would offer two series of notes worth $600mln each due January 2029 and January 2049 and use part of the proceeds to refinance long-term debt.

US: Sears chairman submits new roughly $5bln bid to save retailer - sources
Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised roughly $5bln takeover bid for the company on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said, boosting the chances that the U.S. department store operator will escape liquidation. In a concession, Lampert agreed to assume tax and vendor bills Sears has incurred since filing for bankruptcy protection in October, the sources said. The billionaire’s revised bid was submitted through an affiliate of his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc, on Wednesday afternoon along with a $120mln deposit, the sources added. Lampert’s previous bid, which Sears had rejected, was valued at $4.4bln. The new bid, which Sears will consider during a January 14 bankruptcy auction, proposes assuming up to about $300mln of tax and merchandise expenses the 126-year-old company has racked up since its October 15 bankruptcy filing, the sources said.

US: Sprouts to enter 3 more states and enhance more store designs in Q2
Sprouts is expanding its national footprint to include three more states in the second quarter of this year. Among the nine new stores the natural grocer said it will open during the period are one each in Louisiana and Virginia, and two in Florida. The two Florida stores also will feature an enhanced layout that improve shopper engagement. Overall, the nine new stores will be located in Mesa, Arizona; Los Angeles, San Jose and San Luis Obispo, California; Jacksonville and Oviedo, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Marlton, New Jersey; Herndon, Virginia. Like last year, the grocer is planning to open a total of 30 stores this year, each of which is expected to bring around 140 new career opportunities to its local neighborhood. It plans to have seven of them open by the end of Q1.

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