China's Pinduoduo to raise more than $1bln in Alibaba challenge
China’s upstart e-commerce company Pinduoduo Inc. and its shareholders filed to sell more than 50mln shares in a secondary offering that could raise about $1.5bln after the company’s public debut last year. The Shanghai-based company plans to sell 37mln American depository shares, while investors market 14.8mln, according to a securities filing. Its shares closed at $30.33 in U.S. trading, then dipped after hours to about $29. The lockup period for PDD’s shares expired last month and the selling shareholders include Banyan Partners, Sequoia, Sun Vantage Investment and Lightspeed China.
UAE: Dubai plans new free trade zone to offer 100% foreign ownership
State-developer Dubai South said it aimed to spend Dh2bln to build an e-commerce free trade zone offering foreign firms 100% ownership. Foreigners operating outside of free trade zones in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates can usually only hold a maximum 49% stake, with UAE nationals holding the rest. The new 920,000 square metre trade zone, known as EZDubai, aimed to attract e-commerce, logistics and other related industries, the developer said, adding that construction was expected to start in 2019. Dubai is already the headquarters of the region’s largest e-commerce company, Souq.com, which was bought by Amazon in 2017. It is also home to noon.com, an online shopping site set up by Dubai billionaire Mohammad Alabbar.
Poland: Maxima Grupė completes merger of Stokrotka and Sano retail chains
Lithuanian retailer Maxima Grupė has announced that it has completed the merger of the Stokrotka and Sano retail chains in Poland. In December of last year, Maxima Grupė's Stokrotka banner acquired 100% shares of Sano from Miglione Investments Limited, based in Cyprus. As a part of the merger, which was completed on 1 February, Sano stores will be rebranded to Stokrotka by the first half of this year. Chief executive of Maxima Grupė, Dalius Misiūnas, said: “We chose the Stokrotka brand for this chain because it’s a well-known name that customers like which has solid positions in the near-home store segment. Now we’ll start a new phase of operations in Poland where we will focus most on improving how we work and opening new stores.” Currently, 36 stores operate under the Sano banner in the north-western part of Poland.
UK: “big four” supermarkets continue to lose share - Kantar
Britain’s “big four” supermarkets continued to lose market share to German discounters Aldi and Lidl in the 12 weeks to January 27, market research firm Kantar Worldpanel said. Market leader Tesco, Asda, and Morrisons all lost 20 basis points of share, Kantar said, while number two Sainsbury’s, which is set to merge with Walmart-owned Asda, lost 40 points. Sales at the major chains trailed inflation in the period, rising by 1% at Tesco, 0.7% at Asda and 0.4% at Morrisons, while they dipped 0.3% at Sainsbury’s. In contrast, Aldi saw sales rise by 9.1% and Lidl 7.3%, Kantar said.
Russian tycoon launches bid for Spanish supermarket chain Dia
Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman’s investment group LetterOne said it plans to make a takeover bid for struggling Spanish discount supermarket chain Dia, at a 56% premium to the retailer’s share price. LetterOne, which is Dia’s biggest shareholder with a 30% stake, said it plans to offer almost 300mln euros ($342mln), or 0.67 euros per share, for the 70% that it doesn’t already own and plans a capital injection if its bid succeeds.
Holland: retailer Coop hits 300-store milestone
Dutch retailer Coop has opened its 300th supermarket, in Kootwijkerbroek, east of Utrecht. The store, which is located in a former EMTÉ outlet, was opened by independent store owner Arjan van 't Goor, whose parents used to run the outlet. It is the first store to have been rebranded from EMTÉ to Coop, following the latter’s purchase of 51 EMTÉ supermarkets last year from Sligro. Coop expects the conversion of the former EMTÉ stores to be completed by the first half of 2019, bringing the number of stores operated by the group to 316 by the middle of the year.
UK: Ocado losses widen but sales grow
Ocado has reported widening losses in the year ending 2 December 2018. The online food retailer recorded a pre-tax loss of £44.4mln, compared with £9.8mln in the previous 12 months. However, its sales rose by 12.3% to £1.59bln and chief executive Tim Steiner said: "We now have in place a platform for significant and sustainable long-term value creation."
UK: BRC cautiously welcomes January retail sales uptick
UK retail sales enjoyed positive growth throughout January, but experts welcomed this with caution amid fears the momentum would not continue thanks to continuing uncertainty around Brexit and dwindling consumer confidence. Retail sales increased by 2.2% in January against an increase of 1.4% in the same month last year, marking the highest growth since June, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. On a like-for-like basis, retail sales increased by 1.8% from January 2018, when they had increased 0.6% from the preceding year. Over the three months to January, in-store sales of non-food items declined by 2.6% on a total basis and 3.2% on a like-for-like basis. Meanwhile, food sales increased by 1.3% on a like-for-like basis and 2.4% on a total basis, the highest since September.
EuroCommerce files complaints against Slovak retail tax
EuroCommerce, the body which represents the retail and wholesale trades in Europe, has filed two complaints to the European Commission against a new tax imposed on retailers by the Slovak government. The tax, which applies only to foreign-owned companies in the country, requires retailers to pay 2.5% of their net turnover to authorities. The government expects to raise €87mln from the tax, which came into force on 1 January 2019. According to EuroCommerce, the tax is incompatible with EU laws on two counts: firstly, by exempting virtually all Slovak-owned retail chains, the tax constitutes unlawful state aid, similar to retail taxes previously proposed in Poland and Hungary, and subsequently found illegal by the Commission. Secondly, the discriminatory nature of the tax infringes the clear treaty principle of freedom of establishment.
Canada: Empire wins approval for Safeway staff buyouts in British Columbia
Empire Company Limited says a recent labour decision allowing it to offer buyouts to Safeway employees in British Columbia gives it the opportunity to improve store profitability in the province. In a press release Sobeys’ parent company said the decision, passed down by a government-appointed labour mediator, would enable it to better manage operational costs and contributed “to a level playing field for Empire to compete in B.C.”
US: Saladworks eyes more locations inside ShopRites
After a successful pilot, fast-casual salad restaurant chain Saladworks this year aims to grow its presence at ShopRite supermarkets in the Philadelphia area. Saladworks opened its first-ever location in a grocery store last February inside a remodeled ShopRite, owned by Wakefern Food Corp. member Brown’s Super Stores Inc., on Philadelphia’s Island Avenue. Given the strong customer feedback, two more Saladworks restaurants are now slated to open at Brown’s ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores in the Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia and Wyncote, Pennsylvania, respectively, by the end of the first quarter, said Patrick Sugrue, CEO of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Saladworks.
US: Target expands loyalty pilot
Following the launch of a pilot a program in Dallas-Fort Worth last year, Target is expanding the test of its new loyalty programme, Target Circle, to additional cities. Later this month, Target will launch the pilot programme in Charlotte, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Phoenix. Target Circle enables shoppers to receive 1% cash back on purchases, vote on community giving initiatives and receive personalised offers. This includes exclusive deals on the most relevant categories for each shopper and a birthday reward.
US: Ahold Delhaize taps Zycus for procurement
Ahold Delhaize has selected end-to-end source-to-pay software solutions from Zycus to support the retail conglomerate’s procurement transformation. Under the partnership, Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize has licensed a software suite that includes e-sourcing, contract lifecycle management (CLM) and supplier management. “Like many of our customers, Ahold Delhaize was looking for a comprehensive platform that would simplify their processes and provide an efficient user experience”, noted Dixit Jasani, VP sales at Princeton, New Jersey-based Zycus. “We are delighted with this partnership and look forward to be working with their team.”
Canada: Farm Boy continues Toronto expansion with east end location
Farm Boy took the next step in its ambitious Toronto expansion plan with the opening of a store in the heart of Canada’s biggest city. The 20,000-sq.-ft store in Toronto’s east end includes many of the hallmarks associated with Farm Boy, most notably a large offering of prepared foods and fresh salads from a 36-ft. hot and salad bar. Expansion into the Greater Toronto Area has been on the agenda for Farm Boy for some time, but when it was acquired by Sobeys’ parent Empire last September, executives made it clear those plans could pick up speed, with the substantial buying power and logistical support of the much larger Empire behind it.