Dollar General plans to open 975 new stores in fiscal 2019

Smart & Final: Q4 and fiscal 2018 financial results

US: Hispanic retailer Northgate Gonzalez Market chooses NCR Emerald for new point-of-sale solution
Independent grocer Northgate Gonzalez Market is moving its point-of-sale system to the cloud by integrating NCR Emerald, which will transform the Hispanic retailer’s digital services and help innovate the customer experience. Atlanta-based NCR is a software- and services-led enterprise provider in the retail industry. Northgate is among the retailers that are moving into a digital-first world and engage customers before they ever set foot in a store. With NCR Emerald, the grocer gains the benefits of a cloud-based point-of-sale infrastructure that will help it quickly deploy new customer-facing applications. Additionally, the open architecture of NCR Emerald will help Northgate leverage and integrate its previous investments in loyalty, payments and merchandising.

US: Dollar General to open 975 stores in fiscal 2019
Dollar General Corp. has disclosed plans to open 975 new stores, remodel 1,000 mature store remodels and relocate 100 during fiscal 2019. The information came during the retailer’s release of earnings for its 13-week fourth quarter and 52-week fiscal year 2018 ended February 1, and at roughly the same time that rival operator Dollar Tree revealed plans to close as many as 390 of its Family Dollar stores. Dollar General’s net sales increased 8.5% to $6.6bln in Q4 2018 compared with $6.1bln in the year-ago period. This increase included positive sales contributions from new stores and growth in same-store sales, modestly offset by the impact of store closures. Same-store sales grew 4% from Q4 2017, driven by increases in average transaction amount and customer traffic, both of which Dollar General said have benefited from the early release of government SNAP assistance. Q4 2018 same-store sales included growth in the consumables, seasonal and home categories, partly offset by decreases in the apparel category. The company’s fiscal year 2018 net sales rose 9.2% to $25.6bln, compared with $23.5bln in fiscal year 2017. The increase included positive sales contributions from new stores and growth in same-store sales, modestly offset by the effect of store closures. Same-store sales increased 3.2% from last year, which Dollar General attributed to a rise in average transaction amount. The fiscal year 2018 same-store sales increase also included growth in the consumables, seasonal and home categories, partly offset by declines in apparel. Customer traffic was flat.

US Walmart CFO: grocery a 'halo' for the retailer
As Walmart's grocery business continues to surge, the retail giant is witnessing a change in the way customers perceive its business. The company's online grocery offering has attracted new customers and shown Walmart's ability to innovate from its traditional model, creating a major opportunity to solidify its role as an e-commerce provider. "[Grocery] has been a great brand halo for us", said Walmart executive vice president and chief financial officer Brett Biggs in a presentation to investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Consumer & Retail Technology Conference in New York. During the presentation, Biggs emphasized the significant role that grocery will play in the company's e-commerce growth this year, which the company expects to be around 35%. While Walmart currently offers grocery pickup at approximately 2,000 stores, that number will increase to 3,000 stores by the end of this year, Biggs said. Grocery delivery, which is now available at 800 stores, is projected to double.

US: Gordy's Markets rebrands after SpartanNash purchase
After a somewhat tumultuous few years, five Gordy’s Markets in Chetek, Barron, Cornell, and Chippewa Falls will be rebranded as Family Fare Supermarkets under new ownership. The new owners are none other than Nash Finch, subsidiary of SpartanNash, who recently clashed with the retailer after reopening its suit against Gordy’s for failure to pay off its $46mln loan. However, on Friday, March 8, 2019, Chippewa County Judge James Issac soon approved the sale of Gordy’s assets to Nash Finch, once the retailer dropped its counterclaim against Nash Finch and its request for alternative relief. The five stores were purchased for the price of $15.1mln. “The stores will be converted to SpartanNash’s Family Fare Supermarkets banner in the near future, with the goal of retaining all store-level associates at the stores”, said Meredith Gremel, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Nash Finch. “The new stores will feature many of the banner’s offerings, including the ‘Yes’ loyalty card, Savings Zone, 10/$10 Basket of Values, and much more.”

US: Kroger expands unmanned ecommerce delivery pilot
Kroger is expanding its autonomous grocery delivery service to Houston, following an earlier test in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kroger is working with self-driving vehicle company, Nuro, for the expansion of this programme. It will operate from two Kroger stores in the Houston market, making deliveries into four zip codes. Like Scottsdale, the pilot will start with Nuro's self-driving Toyota Prius fleet before introducing the next generation of the custom driverless vehicle later this year. Through the first stage of the pilot, Kroger and Nuro have successfully and safely completed thousands of deliveries to customers in Scottsdale. The initial pilot has confirmed for Kroger the the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles. Customers have also been very receptive to having their groceries delivered in this way. Through moving the test to Houston, where Kroger has a significant presence, there is an opportunity to significantly scale up the programme in the future.

US: Smart & Final reports net sales increase of 3.7% for fiscal 2018
Smart & Final reported its Q4 and fiscal 2018 financial results, with net sales of $4,741.8mln for the year, an increase of 3.7%, compared with $4,570.6mln in 2017. The company noted that net sales growth was driven in part by the net sales contribution of new stores and a 1.2% increase in comparable-store sales. The increase in comparable-store sales was attributable to a 2.3% increase in comparable average transaction size, partly offset by a 1.1% decrease in comparable transaction count. Net sales for Smart & Final banner stores were $3,672.2mln, an increase of 3.2% as compared with $3,557.7mln in 2017. Full-year 2018 comps for the Smart & Final banner edged up 0.5%. Net sales for Smart Foodservice Warehouse banner stores were $1,069.6mln, a 5.6% increase as compared with $1,012.9mln in 2017. Full-year 2018 comps for the Smart Foodservice Warehouse banner increased 3.6%. Adjusted net income was $31.4mln, as compared with $33.7mln in 2017. Adjusted net income per diluted share was $0.42, compared with $0.45 per diluted share in 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was $181.8mln, as compared with $184.4mln in 2017.

France: Monoprix working on expanding grocery alliance with Amazon
Casino’s upmarket Monoprix supermarket chain is working to expand its partnership with E-commerce giant Amazon in France, following a successful launch in Paris, Monoprix’s Chief Executive said. “We are now covering all of Paris and we are working on a roll out with Amazon whose sole geographic constraint is the presence of Monoprix stores”, Regis Schultz told a news conference on the 2018 results of parent Casino. Meanwhile, Casino CEO Jean-Charles Naouri said the partnership with Amazon had enjoyed an “excellent” start in Paris, exceeding “what had been budgeted”. He did not provide further details.

Holland: Jumbo announces new initiatives to prevent food waste
Dutch retailer Jumbo has announced that it has joined the Samen tegen Voedselverspilling Foundation (Together against Food Waste), which aims to cut food waste by half by the year 2030. The foundation is a coalition of government institutions, social organisations, scientists, and Dutch companies. Through this collaboration, Jumbo will explore means to cut food waste within in own business activities, as well as externally with consumers. The retail giant will also expand its food waste prevention pilot project with Too Good To Go app, launched in January of this year, to 50 stores in the country.

Grocery sales decreased in Italy at end of February
Sales in the large-scale grocery sector saw a fourth consecutive weekly drop in Italy from 25 February to 3 March, slipping by 2.01%, reports La Repubblica. With the latest decline, the positive upward trend that the sector reported in the first month and a half of 2019 seems to have expired, the newspaper suggests. In the seven days analysed, grocery sales in southern Italy increased by 2.59%, highlighting the region's positive trend, compared to the rest of Italy. Meanwhile, sales in the north-west recorded a strong decrease (-4.25%), as did the north-east (-3.04%), while central Italy reported a slight drop, of 0.30%.

Poland: Żabka offers parcel delivery in all outlets for DHL customers
Polish retailer Żabka has announced that DHL Parcel customers can now collect their cash-on-delivery orders from all its outlets in the country. Customers will have the choice of a range of payment options including cash, payment cards or the Blik App. It is possible for customers to return their orders in Żabka outlets by using e-store labels. Żabka has also introduced the facility to redirect parcels to other outlets if it is not possible for a customer to collect it from the location that was originally indicated in the order.

Delhaize’s Mega Image takes over local retail chain in Romania
Romania’s supermarket chain Mega Image, controlled by Dutch-Belgian group Ahold Delhaize, took over 10 stores from regional supermarket chain Zanfir, one of the biggest independent retailers in the country. Developed in Vrancea county, eastern Romania, by local entrepreneur Liliana Zanfir, the Zanfir chain includes 12 supermarkets located in Focşani, Adjud, Panciu, Dărmăneşti, and Târgu Ocna. Zanfir said that she has been seeking an investor to sell the chain since 2007, local reported. She already has another investment project in mind and will use the money from this transaction to finance it. Zanfir is among the largest retailers in eastern Romania, with a turnover of RON 188mln (EUR 42mln) in 2017, 31% higher than in the previous year. The company posted RON 3mln (EUR 645,000) net profit in the same year, 25% less than in 2016.

France's Casino Group: 2018 full year results
In 2018, the Group exceeded its objectives: Growth in consolidated net sales of 4.7% on an organic basis at €36.6bln; Consolidated trading profit of €1,209mln, up 18.0% on an organic basis excluding tax credits and 9.8% including tax credits (above the respective objectives of 10% and >0); Growth in France trading profit for the retail business of 15.7% on an organic basis, above the initial objective of 10%; France trading profit of €579mln; Pursuit of the excellent performance in Latin America driven by Cash & Carry and the revitalization of other formats; Reduction in France net debt to €2.7bln (€3.7bln in 2017); Execution of the €1.5bln asset disposal plan. In light of the plan's completion ahead of initial schedule and of the indicative offers received for other non-strategic assets, the new target has been raised to at least €2.5bln to be achieved by Q1 2020.

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