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Amazon: public transport as parcel carrier

Sedano’s: first-of-its-kind automated sorting system

U.S. bankruptcy judge approves sale of Sears to Chairman Lampert
A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Edward Lampert’s $5.2bln takeover of the beleaguered retailer, allowing the department store chain to avert liquidation and preserve tens of thousands of jobs. Judge Robert Drain approved the sale after a hearing spanning several days in a White Plains, New York, federal bankruptcy court. He overruled objections, including from an unsecured creditors committee, which said the process for selling Sears was unfair to them and argued for a liquidation. Lampert, who arranged an $11bln merger between Sears and discounter Kmart in 2005 and tried for years to boost business, wins another chance to try to revive what once was the biggest U.S. retailer. Lampert, the only bidder offering to keep Sears alive through his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc, agreed to a deal for 425 stores after round-the-clock negotiations in January. The takeover aims to preserve about 45,000 jobs.

US: PCC Community Markets puts human interaction ahead of technology
When PCC Natural Markets changed its name in 2017 to PCC Community Markets, it was a reflection of the company’s commitment to being a local community co-op. That commitment has led it make yet another change: eliminating self-checkout in its stores. “As community-owned market, we want to create community and connection in our stores, and you can’t create connection at a kiosk”, said Heather Snavely, vice president of marketing at the Seattle-based co-op chain.

US: Sedano’s first-of-its-kind automated sorting system
Sedano’s is partnering with Takeoff to allow customers to order groceries online and have them fulfilled through an automated system. The future of grocery shopping can be found in the back of a Sedano’s in far-western Dade. There, a first-of-its-kind automated sorting system built by renowned Austrian logistics company Knapp and designed by a Boston-based startup is already packing groceries for Sedano’s Supermarkets customers who’ve placed orders online or by phone. It’s the product of a fortuitous relationship between Luis Bello, the former CEO of Broward-based Crown Wine and Spirits who was recruited to lead business operations at Takeoff, a grocery software startup. Bello has long-standing relationships at Sedano’s. “We were sold instantly”, Javier Herrán, Sedano’s chief innovation and marketing officer, said when Takeoff presented them with the opportunity.

US: Food delivery pioneer Postmates files to go public
Postmates Inc. has filed for an initial public offering, joining a queue of app-driven companies ramping up to go public this year. The food-delivery company submitted its IPO filing confidentially to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said in a statement, confirming an earlier story by Bloomberg. The size and price range for the proposed offering haven’t been determined, the company said. Postmates has picked JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. as its lead underwriters for the offering, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because it was private. The company could be valued in an offering at more than $1.85bln, the valuation it got in January when it raised $100mln from existing shareholders and BlackRock Inc., the people said.

Amazon to use public transport as parcel carrier
In an attempt to reduce costs in the 'last mile', the e-commerce giant is looking into the possibility of using public transport to deliver its parcels. In many regions it is a thing of the past, but in certain areas with limited logistical possibilities (like sparsely populated Alaska or poor Albania) it is still common place to use public transport as a means to deliver parcels. Amazon now wants to bring the system back, as a solution to carry parcels to its customers even in a city like Seattle. American newspaper Star Tribune has found out that the company has filed a patent that allows a delivery module to be attached to a bus. The patent also mentions a system in which the customer enters his location and receives a list of suggested bus stops. Upon selecting a preferred stop, the customer then receives the schedule of the participating busses.

Sweden: ICA Gruppen aims to go carbon neutral by 2020
Sweden's ICA Gruppen has announced that it is aiming to go carbon neutral across its operations by 2020. In 2019, its key area of focus will be to reduce the company's carbon footprint by inspiring customers and suppliers to opt for sustainable and healthy choices. As the CEO of ICA Gruppen Per Strömberg explained: the Mitt klimatmål ('My climate target') initiative is now a key part of the group's future plans and there is a strong environmental focus in newly built stores, as well as mutual work further down in the supply chain with its suppliers to reduce carbon footprint. "The entire market for renewable fuels is undergoing change, and we - and many others - need to adapt. As part of this work, during the first half of 2019, we will present a long-term fuel strategy", he said.

Lithuania: Maxima Grupė announces new operating strategy
Maxima Grupė has announced that it has approved a new long-term operating strategy that centres around transformation and expansion. Its transformational goals, up to the year 2025, include improved customer experience and a better work environment for employees. The retailer aims to invest around €600mln over the next seven years in renovating existing stores and launching new ones. More than a hundred employees from group companies, across five countries, participated in drafting the strategy, the company said.

Australia’s Coles: New Alliance partnership to restore leadership position and convenience trading update
Coles Group and Viva Energy have entered into a New Alliance agreement until 2029. The New Alliance is a strategic step in positioning the Coles Convenience business to be Australia’s leading convenience retailer. The parties are committed and incentivised to jointly grow the Alliance. Coles Convenience customers will continue to enjoy loyalty benefits and will benefit from a more compelling customer offer Coles’ Convenience business will move to a commission agent model and Viva will set the retail price of fuel. Coles will continue to operate the Alliance sites and has the opportunity to expand the network. Viva Energy will pay Coles $137mln at transaction close.

Kaufland has reached a network of 121 stores in Romania
Kaufland opened its third store in Bacău and reached 121 hypermarkets in Romania. Kaufland is the leader of the retail market in Romania with a turnover of over 10bln lei in 2017, which represents 10.4% of the total national business. The retailer has recently released a card through which customers will have access to promotions and other benefits. Kaufland has entered the Romanian market since 2005 and is part of the German Schwarz Group, which also has Lidl’s retail network in Romania, and is among the largest retail companies in Europe with over 1,270 stores in seven countries.

Spain: Mercadona seeks drivers for distribution with salaries from 1,327 euros
The company presided over by Juan Roig is looking for distributors in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Álava, and the Balearic Islands. The posts correspond to full-time positions in one sector, that of the delivery drivers, in expansion due to the increase in sales over the internet. In this regard, Mercadona implanted last year its new model of online sales in the province of Valencia and prepares its extension for 2020 in Madrid, Barcelona and their respective metropolitan areas. The supermarket chain offers permanent contracts from the time of incorporation and a Initial salary of 1,327 euros per month with a wage progression to the four year that exceeds the payroll of 1,800 euros. The posts correspond to full-time positions in one sector, that of the delivery drivers, in expansion due to the increase in sales over the internet.

Colruyt introduces voice commerce in Belgium
Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt is testing a system that allows customers to make their shopping lists through Google Assistant. The system records what customers ask, then suggests products based on the customer's previous orders. “Together with our customers, we will see if voice technology is an efficient tool to prepare a shopping list”, marketing director Guy Elewaut says. “The test is used to determine if our customers can make their lists even easier this way.” Lacking a Belgian version, the system will currently use the Dutch and French version of the Google Assistant software. Testers can ask their Android smartphone or any other device that has Google Assistant to create a list that is saved onto the MyColruyt app and profile on the website.

Spanish supermarket Dia to slash jobs
Financially troubled Spanish supermarket group Dia said on February 8 it wanted to cut up to 2,100 jobs as it reported a massive loss. Dia, the target of a public buyout offer by the Russian oligarch who is already its top shareholder, reported a net loss of 352.5mln euros (US$399.3mln) for 2018. The discount supermarket chain, which has had to reduce prices in the face from competitors Lidl and Mercadona, saw net sales fall nearly 11% to 7.3bln euros.

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