Alibaba: ‘A100’ initiative

Carrefour: first French retailer to use artificial intelligence to optimise supply chain

In Russian supermarkets, consumers can settle purchases with their fingerprint
In what could be a world’s first, Azbuka Vkusa, a major grocery chain with more than 170 outlets across Russia, and its partner Sberbank, the state-owned banking giant, have launched what they call a “perfect fingerprint payment service.” The service is not entirely new: so far, the chain’s customers could use fingerprints to pay from their bank card account - but only in the outlet where they had their registered biometric details. Since early January, the system has been extended to 20 supermarkets: in any of them, customers can settle their purchases by placing a finger on biometric POS terminals. The service will soon be made available in additional Azbuka Vkusa outlets, according to the company.

China: Alibaba launches ‘A100’ initiative
China-based Alibaba has launched ‘A100’, a strategic partnership programme. The initiative, according to Alibaba, provides companies with a “holistic one-stop solution to accelerate their digital transformation”. The A100 programme will also help to transform Alibaba into an integrated technology provider for companies around the world. The programme is powered by the Alibaba Operating System, which controls the infrastructure behind all Alibaba’s businesses. With cloud-based technologies, the system can process massive flows of data to offer insights and analytics. Through the A100 programme Alibaba is offering companies of all sizes a chance to tap into the Alibaba Operating System. Members of A100 will work with Alibaba’s businesses across multiple platforms to enhance their business operations. To support companies Alibaba will establish a cross-platform team that will work with partners already in its network. The programme will be gradually extended to incorporate other global and Chinese domestic companies.

New Zealand: Online shopping comes to Pak'n Save
Customers who want the savings of shopping at Pak'n Save without the full in-store experience will soon be able to "click and collect" their groceries. The supermarket chain is rolling out the online shopping option, with instore collection, first at Sylvia Park in Auckland, followed by all other North Island stores by the middle of this year. Foodstuffs North Island chief executive Chris Quin said being driven by customers was key to Pak'n Save success. "They've been asking us to help them save more than money, they want us to help them save time."

Maxima commences renovation of five stores in Latvia
Lithuanian retail group Maxima has announced that it has commenced the renovation of five stores in Latvia. Stores in Riga, Iecava, Sigulda, Dagda, and Rēzekne will undergo a modernisation process, which is expected to conclude in the coming three to five months. The renovation is focused on creating modern and convenient shopping and work environments for both customers and employees. "When renovating a store, we are increasingly focused not only on creating a more pleasant space with smart design solutions, but also in improving the energy efficiency of the building and equipment. We also work to introduce new technology and expand our network of self-service checkouts”, added Maxima Latvija board member, Kristīne Āboltiņa.

Spain: Eroski introduces paper alternative to single-use plastic bags
Spanish retailer Eroski has launched a new sustainable paper bag to offer customers an alternative to single-use plastic bags. The new bags are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and are being rolled out in Eroski's hypermarkets from this week onwards. "We offer this more sustainable alternative as part of our commitment to protecting the environment and as a response to the demands of our customers, who through their different participation channels have sent us their suggestions", said Eroski's director of health and sustainability, Alejandro Martínez Berriochoa.

Core investors in Italy's Esselunga to buy out minorities
Italian supermarket chain Esselunga said the majority owners of its parent company Supermarkets Italiani had exercised their right to buy the 30% they do not own. Esselunga was founded by late businessman Bernardo Caprotti and 70% of its parent company is currently owned by Caprotti’s second wife Giuliana and their daughter Marina. Giuliana and Marina will buy the rest of Supermarkets Italiani from Caprotti’s two children from his first marriage, Giuseppe and Violetta, a statement on Esselunga website said.

France: Artificial intelligence to optimise Carrefour’s supply chain
Carrefour has become the first French retailer to use artificial intelligence to optimise inventory management and reduce waste by integrating software developed by advanced analytics leader SAS into its supply chain. Drawing on the €2bln annual investment budget included in the "Carrefour 2022" transformation plan, mainly for IT and digital technology projects, Carrefour Supply Chain selected Viya - an artificial intelligence (AI) solution developed by advanced analytics leader SAS. Following the completion of an 18-month trial, the SAS platform will be used to collect and process data from stores, warehouses and e-commerce websites to better predict demand and refine supplier orders. More intelligent supply chain management will ultimately reduce stock outages and overstocking in stores and warehouses.

Dealz to expand in Spain
Pepkor Europe-owned Dealz, part of the Poundland family, plans to open 20 stores in Spain over the next three years. Dealz currently has 10 stores in Spain, after opening two in Q4 2018. InfoRetail reports the news as part of an interview with the company. Dealz will continue to open its new stores in shopping centres and high streets and start opening in retail park locations. Geographically, the openings will be split between Madrid and Valencia. The stores will have sales areas of between 750 to 1000 sqm.

UAE: First Spar supermarket opened in Dubai
Spar UAE has celebrated the opening of its first supermarket in Dubai, the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. This takes the total number of Spar multi-format modern supermarkets in the country to 31. The 725m2 neighbourhood Spar Supermarket is located on the prestigious Hessa Street and caters for a mix of local and international customers. The offer has a strong focus on convenience and fresh foods, with a world-class fresh produce section, a fresh fish counter, roastery, Food-to-Go, delicatessen and an Arabic bakery - not to mention many imported and local fresh meats, Arabic snacks and sweets, and healthy organic products. The product assortment has been tailored for both locals and expatriates with a large selection of local and internationally sourced produce, fish & shellfish range, cheese & delicatessen products and Spar Own Brands sourced from around the world.

Walmart aims to grow online sales in China
Walmart China will open its first perishable food distribution center in China and is making other efforts to grow online sales in the country. Walmart plans to launch its first perishable food distribution center in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China Daily reported. The retailer will invest more than 700mln yuan (USD 104mln) in the center, the largest investment by Walmart since it entered the Chinese market 22 years ago, Tan Wern-Yuen, president and CEO of Walmart China, told the newspaper. Walmart China’s e-commerce sales reached a revenue growth of 150% year-on-year, a third consecutive three-digit rise, Wern-Yuen added.

Amazon testing free product samples
Amazon is planning to send free samples right to the doors of customers, raising some privacy concerns in the age of data mining and detailed digital user profiles, according to CNBC. “Amazon surprises select customers with samples that we think will be delightful and helpful”, the company says on its website. “It’s like Amazon’s product recommendations, but real, so you can try, smell, feel and taste the latest products. There is no obligation to purchase or review the product and you can opt out at any time.”

US: Shaw's closing 4 stores in Massachusetts & New Hampshire
Shaw’s Supermarkets is closing four stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. A spokesperson for the West Bridgewater-based company confirmed to Boston 25 News the stores in Leominster, Lynn, Plymouth (10 Pilgrim Hill Road) and Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Woodbury Avenue) are closing. “Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision, but we’re focused on growing our business by being the favorite local supermarket, and running great stores where people love to shop”, Shaw’s said in a statement. “That’s what will enable us to offer the products and services our customers value most in Massachusetts and everywhere else we operate.”

US: Albertsons Companies, Inc. reports third quarter results
Albertsons Companies, Inc. (the "Company") reported results for the third quarter of fiscal 2018, which ended December 1, 2018: Identical sales increased 1.9%. Adjusted EBITDA increased over 50%. eCommerce sales growth of 73%. Own Brands sales penetration increased to an all-time high of 25.2%. Completed refinancing and $1bln paydown of our term loan facility. Fiscal 2018 Adjusted EBITDA updated to be in the range of $2.65bln to $2.7bln.

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