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Aldi: new “Local” concept store in South London

Masoutis: 25mln euro investment plan in 15 new supermarkets

Russia: X5 Retail Group sees EBITDA margin rise
Russian retailer X5 Retail Group said that its adjusted EBITDA rose to 7.2% in full-year 2018, as the business reported ‘sustainable growth’ for the year. The retailer made the announcement as it published its 2018 Annual Report, in which it said that it grew revenue by 16.9% year-on-year and delivered positive like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter of the year. X5 improved its grow margin by 30 basis points for the year to 24.1%, thanks to ‘more effective management of [promotions]’ as well as ‘successful measures introduced by the new team at Pyaterochka to control shrinkage that started to yield results from the third quarter’.

Australia: Woolworths puts Tableau in the picture for data visualisation
Data visualisation specialist Tableau, the company co-founded by animation studio Pixar’s chief architect Pat Hanrahan, has picked up Woolworths as a customer, in a rare acknowledgement by the retail giant over what tech vendors it is using. A statement issued by Tableau said Woolworths will “rollout Tableau in a staged deployment in the coming months across multiple group businesses covering functions including merchandising, finance, supply chain, store operations and people operations.” The deal, the value of which was not disclosed, is notable because it indicates large Australian enterprises are starting to lean towards commercial off the shelf software for analytics and what are termed ‘visuals’ rather than trying to make their own.

Philippines: Robinsons Retail 2018 net income rises on bump from tax reform
Robinsons Retail Holdings said its net income rose in 2018, as lower income taxes spurred growth in same store sales. Net income attributable to shareholders rose 2% to P5.1bln. Core net earnings, which excludes interest from bonds, equitized net earnings from Robinsons Bank and non-recurring expenses rose 6% to P5bln. Robinsons Retail said same store sale growth was "brought about by the increase in disposable income from the reduction in personal income tax."

Shareholder vote clears way for Fridman bid for Spain's DIA
Shareholders in Spain’s DIA backed a rescue plan for the faltering supermarket chain in a vote which clears the way for Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman’s investment fund to proceed with a takeover bid. A familiar sight on Spanish high streets, many customers have turned their back on DIA’s no-frills model as the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy pulled out of recession. To start a turnaround, Fridman’s LetterOne (L1), DIA’s biggest shareholder with a 29% stake, proposed raising 500mln euros ($568mln) in fresh capital if it could build up a majority stake. The capital hike won over shareholders who rejected a rival proposal put forward by DIA’s board, satisfying L1, which had said it would withdraw its takeover offer if the board’s plan passed.

Holland: Retailer Plus sees turnover rise & profits decrease
Dutch retailer Plus has posted a 3.8% increase in turnover in full-year 2019, to €2.478bln. However, net profit at the group fell by 21.4%, to €8.1mln, the business reported.Operating profits were down 20.2%, due to a one-off cost of €18mln on an automation product. Without this expense, operating profits rose by 16.2%. “Plus has had a good year on many fronts”, said Duncan Hoy, the group’s chief executive. “Sales, the clientele, and operational EBITDA increased. This strong basis offers an excellent perspective for 2019”, added Hoy.

UK: Aldi launches new “Local” concept store in South London
Aldi has just launched a new and smaller “Local” concept store in South London as part of a trial that could potentially see a roll-out of the sub-brand. An Aldi UK spokesperson confirmed with the Retail Gazette that the store, located on Balham High Road, is part of a trial of a new brand identity “to help shoppers distinguish between its smaller city stores in London and the conventional-sized Aldis”. The Aldi Local concept is only being trialled at Balham for the time being, and the results would be evaluated before deciding whether to roll out the concept and branding. Aldi stressed that this was not a move into convenience retailing, and that the Balham store - at 6500sq ft - is still twice the size of a typical convenience store. However, the store in question sells 300 fewer products than a regular-sized Aldi.

China: Tencent weighs bid for part of Temasek's stake in A.S. Watson - Bloomberg
Chinese technology company Tencent Holdings Ltd is considering a bid for part of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd’s stake in beauty and health retailer A.S. Watson, Bloomberg reported, citing sources. Temasek is weighing selling around a 10% stake in A.S. Watson for about $3bln, the report said. The stake has also drawn interest from e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, according to the report. Tencent could team up with some investment funds to make an offer for the stake in A.S. Watson, part of conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. A.S. Watson said it had no comment on the speculation. Tencent and Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment.

Greece: Masoutis investing 25mln euro in 15 new supermarkets
Northern Greek supermarket chain Masoutis continues to bolster its presence in Athens, that started last year with the acquisition of the small Promitheftiki chain, and is planning to open 10 new supermarkets in the capital this year as part of its 25mln euro total investment plan - with 15 new outlets across the country. The company is constantly on the lookout for properties, planning the development of all types of shops, from convenience stores to hypermarkets. Masoutis is also considering the acquisition or creation of a logistics center to serve the needs of its stores in southern Greece. Besides the 25mln euro to be invested in new stores this year, Masoutis also intends to invest 80mln euro in promotional activity in 2019.

US: Whole Foods joins energy saving program
Whole Foods Market is participating in California’s Demand Response Auction Mechanism (DRAM) market, a program that provides financial incentives for companies to reduce power consumption. Three Whole Foods Markets in the state will act as energy storage facilities to actively reduce power consumption and consistently benefit from financial incentives. The incentives are earned during peak hours when demand for energy is high and the grid is stressed. By promoting energy-use reduction, operators can better balance the power grid, rather than turn on polluting natural-gas power plants. As large power users, grocery stores can benefit from these incentives both by saving on energy costs and by enjoying the financial rewards.

US: Farmstead works directly with customers to plan eco-friendly delivery routes
In an effort to create eco-friendly delivery routes, online grocer Farmstead is working directly with its customers in its Sustainable Routes program. The goal is to reduce the amount of vehicles on the road, reducing carbon emissions and Farmstead’s delivery costs. The savings are passed on to customers in the form of lower prices and free delivery. Sustainable Routes are created by grouping together neighbors who all receive their Farmstead deliveries during the same day and delivery window each week. This allows Farmstead to deliver to more customers at the same time with fewer vehicles, while giving customers three delivery windows a day, seven days a week. The company estimates that this approach will take nine to 10 unnecessary cars off the roads for each delivery route that leaves the Farmstead micro-hub through its new Sustainable Routes program. As a neighborhood’s route becomes more sustainable, the company will also offer customers on the route benefits like exclusive product discounts and reduced order minimums.

US: Kroger and Peak Rock Capital announce definitive agreement for purchase of Kroger's Turkey Hill business
The Kroger Co. and Peak Rock Capital, a leading middle-market private equity firm based in Austin, Texas, announced a definitive agreement for the sale of Kroger's Turkey Hill business to an affiliate of Peak Rock Capital. As part of the sale agreement, the Peak Rock Capital affiliate will continue to operate the Turkey Hill business out of its large Conestoga, Pennsylvania, facility with its nearly 800 full-time, part-time and seasonal associates and under the same recognizable Turkey Hill brand. "We believe this is the right step to ensure the Turkey Hill business can meet its full potential and continue to grow its successful ice cream and beverage brands", said Erin Sharp, group vice president for Kroger Manufacturing. "Throughout this process, we were extremely impressed with Peak Rock's professionalism and vision for the future of the Turkey Hill business. We look forward to working with them to ensure a smooth and successful transition for all parties."

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